culture

Call for artists

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Seeking artist.
Offering free studio space in Tirana city centre.
Duration: 2 months (Nov.1-.Dec 30, 2017)

Conditions:
Artist may use space as needed.
Artist shall create a permanent outdoor graffiti of their choice (upon approval of draft)
on Ditart Centre exterior doors, front wall and one water tank in the area. (images will be emailed). Artwork may depict or represent neighbourhood or another approved concept/design. Artist is encouraged to present a public event with works and communicate on social media about progress of work.

Compensation:
Artist will have full access to 42m2 studio space in Tirana city centre, includes bathroom, kitchenette, TV, WIFI, close to all amenities and bus routes.
Promotion of artist and work on Ekphrasis Studio online (website, youtube, facebook)
Promotion of artist and exhibition through Ekphrasis Studio network (mainstream/alt TV/print media, events guides, personal contacts, community, etc)

Notices:
The artist retains full rights to use the image of the artwork.
Ditart Centre has full rights to use the image of the artwork.
Artwork remains on display as part of Ditart Centre’s permanent outdoor public art programme.

Other works in the programme:
Inside Out – Jedidjah Slaghter. Three mosaic carpets hanging outside, with mosaic mirrors.
Blue Summer – Ada Bufi. Mural painting of lively and reflective water scene.

email for details and photos to contact@EkphrasisStudio.com

Ditart centre is a not-for-profit arts centre in Tirana run by Ekphrasis Studio to improve our daily artistic and cultural quality of life!
https://ekphrasisstudio.com/ekphrasis-arts-center/

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What do parrots & people have in common?

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The following article is based on information provided by the Albanian Institute of Statistics as of June 2010.  For more statistics please visit:  http://www.instat.gov.al/

What do Parrots and People have in common?

TIRANA.  I was reading about parrots lately.  First of all, they say that parrots can have the intelligence of a 2-5 year old child.  I found that “providing him with varying levels of physical and mental stimulation will help to combat boredom and the unwanted behaviors that are triggered by it. Biting, plucking and screeching are all behavioral symptoms of a bored parrot. If left to escalate, any one of these behaviors can become detrimental to the health and well being of your parrot.”

It seems obvious that the same must hold true for people.  So if we are concerned about keeping a parrot with the intelligence of a 2 yr old stimulated, then it seems natural we should stimulate our society as well.

It has often been stressed that exercising the mind is a key life practice and an essential skill necessary for a happy, healthy and prosperous life…and isn’t this what we all want?

According to a research on “Arts and Happiness” from the Manchester Metropolitan University “Arts increase happiness and reduce anxiety and depression” (September, 2007).

A future article will discuss the removal, destruction and replacement of cultural outlets in Albania, including the destruction of the oldest fountain in Tirana, which was (until yesterday – July 21) situated in front of parliament, a museum turned into a bar in Elbasan, and countless other examples.  This article, however, will focus on government statistics.

Let’s examine a few stats regarding cultural stimulation in Albania.  It is important to note that while this is being written in 2010, the stats provided by the Institute of Statistics regarding culture are current only up to 2007, and in most cases 2004.  We must also note that statistics do not tell the entire story, only trends.  Here are a few trends based on the stats:

1. National Gallery of Arts (stats current up to 2007)

From 2004-2007, the number of exhibitions decreased from 51 to 33, and attendance decreased from 10,000 in 2004 to 7,900 in 2007.  Publications from the gallery decreased from 7 in 2004 to 2 for the years 2005, 2006 and 2007 combined.  The Gallery has no website either.

2. Gallery of Arts-Districts (stats current up to 2004)

In 2001 there were 26 items listed as District Gallery of Arts.  By 2004, when the data stops, there are 15 listed.  Likewise, attendance had dropped more than 50% between 2003 and 2004.

3. Others

National Museums decreased from 10 to 8 between 2004 and 2007.

The Variety Theatre decreased in Hall Capacity from 400 to 100 in 2001 and remained so until 2004, when data stops. The number of shows decreased from 50-22 between 2003-2004 and attendance was halved.  The number of actors decreased as well.

The Circus decreased in Hall Capacity from 500 to 100 between 2002-2004.  The number of actors decreased as well as the audience.  Data stops in 2004.

Movie Theatres decreased from 14 in 2001 to 8 in 2004 when the data stops.  The number of cinemas in 1991 was 65.

While it is true that some institutions have in fact grown in size and stature, many have diminished and /or disappeared.  We invite all readers to respond with your comments, experiences and information.

The information in this article is based entirely on data from the website of the Albanian Institute of Statistics.  I will be the first to say that this article is incomplete.  The reason being, the statistics are incomplete.  What is clear however, is that our opportunities for cultural stimulation have decreased, and like the parrot, many of us have begun biting, plucking and screeching.

Q: What do parrots and people have in common?

A: Boredom.

Social Cohesion along the Durres-Kukes Highway – Connecting to or THROUGH

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Social Cohesion along the Durres-Kukes Highway – Connecting to or THROUGH

By: Ekphrasis Studio

June 29, 2009

TIRANA. Along Albania’s newest motorway, it now takes 1:40 minutes to drive from Durres to Kukes.  This is perfect for quick travel, trade, emergencies and is an amazing feat of engineering.  But what if I want to take it slower?  What if I want to learn about and celebrate this ‘newest’ part of Albania?  Is there any place – or reason to stop and visit?  Why was the celebration on June 25th only for the Democratic Party?  And was it just me, or was the crowd all men and mainly female singers on stage?! Interesting way of involving women in politics!

This article is based on a concept known as community cohesion, combined with the ever popular theme of tourism.  Cohesion in this sense refers to social interaction, the bond and togetherness a community has towards other members, including a common belonging and sense of cultural similarity.  A sense of cooperation to tell the collective story.  Tourism on the other hand is now one of the hottest words in the Albanian language, but it is still not well defined.  I will bluntly define tourism as “drawing in money from outside the community to improve the quality of life within the community, in exchange for worthwhile experiences and goods”.

Is there any incentive for us to visit these places along the new highway, or any worthwhile experiences awaiting?  Are there any attractions?  Reasons to live and work within that region?  Or is it just a motorway connecting point A with point B for a better Albanian economy? It sounds very easy to compete with the European market just by building a road. What about the Albanian market, what does it offer?

In rural settings – no matter how big the road going past is – you will get very few accidental visitors, therefore they must be drawn there for some reason, be it a market, museum, gallery, festival, park, or even just for a great snack!  In order to sustain these communities on more than just a possible gas station, we must also use the road to bring people to these places and not just bypass them.  We cannot simply expect the villagers to come Tirana, or Kukes bearing the fruits of their labour.

When a road does not connect the communities along its reach, it leads to decreased cohesion, resulting in lower property values and decreased housing quality over time, essentially a lower quality of life to the local inhabitants – and quality of life must always be at the forefront of any community.  Thus, a road that does not effectively connect people in a reciprocal way, can actually serve as little more than an exit or escape for villagers to move to the cities or hubs.

Elsewhere, to promote interest, community involvement with project managers and government officials led to the creation of grand gateway signs on the new Sea to Sky Highway in Western Canada, consisting of 2.5 meter high, illuminated faux-rock boulders at the North and South entrances of community regions, with both the official English town name and the Salish First Nations name in recognition, thus promotion of their history in the region.  This has given a reason for travelers to take notice and perhaps stop in a particular community, which gives the community an opportunity to tell their story, create a job, and help keep a local working in the region. 

While it’s too late now for additional ‘inaugurations’, it is never too late to celebrate the road.  Supposing there were events along the length of the road for the entire summer, it could invite all Albanians to see a ‘new’ part of the country, immediately bringing additional money to the communities along the road, who are now introducing their story.  This also would serve to establish ‘memorable’ spots for travelers, as places where major, minor, family, cultural, educational, etc., events have taken place.  This in turn leads to traditional stopping places (for ice cream, coffee, museum, park) – economic growth, exchange of ideas, tourism, and finally, increased quality of life. 

  

As a way to tell the stories, bridges, tunnels, sections of road, rest-stops, view points, can be named after local and regional historical figures, ie. celebrating an ancient local road builder, a rancher, an administrator, veterans, a female hero, an herbal remedy, etc. to introduce and promote local history and customs.   

 How about the story of the former ‘Independent’ Republic of Mirdite, with its capital in Rreshen in 1921?  That Mirdite was the most distinctive region for the traditions of the Kanun. 

       

Or the 900 year old church in Rubik, that was once called ‘the most beautiful in the world’?  The ancient Ulti tree planted atop the ‘Mountain of Saint’ by the Benedictines?  The travels of Edith Durham?  The 1927 Bridge of Zog?  The mining history (and future) of Reps?  The abundance of gold, nickel, copper and chrome in the region?

 

Not every traveler knows the local or regional history, and certainly not every traveler cares, however there are more than enough who do have an interest to know these things, and would be willing to pay to know more.  Vignettes (in photographs, but also literature) of the stories of the people living along the road, not just the ones who built it.  An annual bike race, or a classic car rally, with stops in the villages now accessible thanks to the road could be an idea.  Or a new National Park?  These are just a few of countless creative ways to bring people of all demographics not just onto the road, but also to get OFF of the road, and into these newly accessible places.

Ekphrasis Studio is an Arts Management & Creative Industries Provider operating in Tirana. Co-directors Kevin Tummers and Blerina Berberi have Masters Degrees in Arts & Culture: Management, Policy & Education, Universitet Maastricht, The Netherlands, focused on tourism policy & development through inter-cultural dialogue and projects.