Rama Rather Protects Parreno than Actual Cultural Heritage Philippe Parreno's fortified "Marquee Tirana." Feb. 17, 2016. Photo © Exit

One of the first symbolic acts of Prime Minister Edi Rama was the removal of the fence around the Prime Ministry. But it seems, a few months before the elections, the fences have returned.

In preparation for the opposition protest announced by PD leader Lulzim Basha for tomorrow, Prime Minister Rama has decided to fortify Philippe Parreno’s “Marquee Tirana,” an art installation on the façade of the Prime Ministry. The entrance to the Center for Openness and Dialogue (COD), as well as the marquee, have been surrounded by scaffolding and black fabric.

Opposition protest in front of the Prime Ministry. Dec. 9, 2015. Source: Gazeta Shqip.
Opposition protest in front of the Prime Ministry. Dec. 9, 2015. Source: Gazeta Shqip.

In the past, the artwork donated by the French artist who also has a seat in the board of the COD, has been the target of anti-government protests.

The care displayed by the Prime Minister for the work of his friend, which is in fact an illegal intervention on the facade of a Category II Cultural Monument, has a certain irony to it, considering the fact that his government has no qualms to oversee the destruction of cultural heritage around the country.

The ruins of the monumental wall of Qemal Stafa stadium.
The ruins of the monumental wall of Qemal Stafa stadium.

The most recent example is the Veliera Project in Durrës, which against all regulations on cultural heritage threatens to destroy centuries of archeological heritage. Another example, though designed by the same Italian architect, is the destruction of the Qemal Stafa stadium, also Category II Cultural Monument. Finally, we can point to the Category II monuments destroyed by his urban renewal project in Gjirokastra, another project managed by “friends” of the government.

It is good to know where Prime Minister Rama’s priorities are when it comes to culture: his own career and gifts of friends. And while Albanian cultural heritage is destroyed around the country, we are stuck with a fortified piece of contemporary art.