Yesterday I had a nice talk with Albanian artist Ilir Kaso whom I met at „La 21ème„, a diner organized by the artists Effi&Amir.
Ilir not only surprised me with his oeuvre but also with his view on the role of a curator. He said that curating is not yet a common practice in Tirana. „Most initiatives are artist run“, he said. Curators would push the art scene, he believes. They would not only get artists together but make society understand the artists/their works. In particular when it comes to artists who are not using classic media (as painting). Ilir said that Albanian society still mostly equals art with painting (and photography). There is not yet a broader understanding of art as a social practice, as installation, performance etc. But he thinks that (Albanian) society needs ‚active interventions‘, not only aesthetic ones. Artists should show new ways of thinking and living to find another mental space.
Ilir thinks that things will change now with the new socialist Prime Minister Edi Rama, a former artist *.
However, creating a vivid art scene consists of more than cosmetics (= painting buildings) or inviting star curators (Hans Ulrich Obrist) and internationally acclaimed artists (like the Albanian Anri Sala). It needs a broad unconditional public funding. Of course curators would be of great help to open art spaces, to mediate art and artists and link them to the global art scene. But I think they will end up living under precarious conditions, trapped in a creative bubble, as the example of Berlin shows.
A space Ilir talked about: http://www.tiranaekspres.com/en/
* see also:http://www.biennialfoundation.org/2013/06/biennial-foundation-congratulates-edi-rama-as-the-new-prime-minister-of-albania/) and http://blogs.artinfo.com/artintheair/2013/07/09/meet-edi-rama-artist-mural-activist-and-albanias-new-prime-minister/