The Albanian Art Scene 2009.


The Albanian Art Scene 2009


Adrian Paci
DVD, 3 min. 30 sek.



Hanne Damgaard Lashi MA

Vejleder: Jens Fleischer
Københavns Universitet
Institut for Kunst – og kulturvidenskab
Marts 2010


Get the thesis (94 illustrated pages in Danish) here. 



The Albanian art scene 2009 is based on the remarkable history of the country. The Albanian people have roots far back in history, but the proper State of Albania was not formed until the beginning of the 20th century, when the Ottomans had retreated from the Balkans after about 500 years of occupation. The Ottomans` strict political strategy for the small province at the edge of the Empire was intended to prevent all contact between Albania and Italy, which are only separated by a 70 km stretch of sea which forms the boundary between East and West. Thus Albanian culture and art tradition has remained extremely folkloristic, and a proper period of flourishing is not seen until the State of Albania was formed and art became part of the massive propaganda machine based on myths, especially by the Albanian diaspora in America, to legitimise an Albanian state on the Balkans. Then Albania became a Communist republic and artists were even more subjected to the guidelines of the leaders. Only with the collapse of Communism in the 1990ies and the transition into a democratic capitalistic society did Albanian artists have the freedom to choose their own subjects, techniques and approach. But the transition from an isolated peasant society to a democratic society with free access to TV, Internet and magazines is however problematic, and it leaves the artist in difficulties.

To-day the albanian art scene is dichotomised into two groups. Both groups are extremely preoccupied with their Albanian roots, as appears from the analyses of their works, and the difference mainly lies in their artistic approach.

One group, represented by Shqelqim Mecaj, deals with the chaotic situation in Albania by constructing and creating answers, whereas the other group, represented by Anri Sala and Adrian Paci, has a deconstructing and questioning approach to history and society. The dichotomic relation between the two groups evidently depends on where the artists live, on whether or not the artist has experienced and been inspired by the Western European art scene. As a result of the challenged identity of the Albanians, caused by the historical conditions, and the unstable social situation, both history, art history and art in Albania are characterised by a wish to prove the raison d’être of the nation, but the deconstructing art of the Albanian artists of the diaspora is difficult to relate to and understand for the Albanians who have no tradition for critical public debate.


The Albanian National Gallery of Arts.