From: Exit Staff
MANIFESTO Multi-Disciplinary Art Exhibition and Events to Take Place in Tirana

DebatikCenter of Contemporary Art (DCCA) is pleased to present MANIFESTO, a series of artistic, cultural, and social events combining art and politics with the issues facing Albanian society today. They will take place in Tirana between 4 July and 11 September 2022.

A collaboration with ZETA Contemporary Art Center in Tirana, MANIFESTO comprises an exhibition, a series of public talks and performances, a publication series on art and politics, and the launch of several online projects.

These projects collectively strike at the foundations that bind together contemporary art and oligarchic power, gnawing at networks of neoimperialism and proposing new foundations for solidarity and resistance.

MANIFESTO starts from the premise that the state machinery in Albania has captured the artistic means of representation, turning contemporary art into a mechanism for systematically providing cultural capital and overall legitimacy to a corrupt financial and political elite.

This oligarchic elite obscures itself behind bureaucracy at the same time that it abuses the private data of its citizens, and it uses the language of global contemporary art (not to mention its funding streams and professional networks) to distract from its own violence.

From the ruins of this broken narrative, MANIFESTO sets out to assemble new histories of the present, to build a museum that never stops growing – a museum of neoimperialism and neocolonialism, and at the same time a museum of resistance.

Truths are piling up in the halls of this museum, coiling like snakes, buzzing like hornets. It is time for a New Wave to come.

MANIFESTO has seen the great spectacle of disaster, conflagration, and decomposition: it is the spectacle that we are all now living. To dismantle this spectacle, the organizers of MANIFESTO proclaim the need for a HIJACKING.

Every spectator is a plotter – yes, and every spectator is a hijacker. MANIFESTO is the name for a spontaneous sneaking into the logics and the architectures of corruption, of neocolonialism, of artwashing. Hijacking won’t wash out.

MANIFESTO begins on July 4, 11:00am, with The Press Conference at Tirana International Hotel. Curated by Sonja Lau, The Press Conference is a public announcement of a Readymade-state-of-mind, a condition that informs and underlies the MANIFESTO project as a whole, proposing new performative gestures and new forms of speech.

At The Press Conference, Ataol Kaso will read his poem “Vulnerable Living in Tirana,” a text derived from leaked information that the Albanian Socialist Party had gathered on its citizens in preparation for influencing voting behavior in the most recent round of elections.

On the evening of July 4, at 7:00pm, the collective La Société Spectrale (Armando Lulaj, Jonida Gashi, and Pleurad Xhafa) will open their exhibition The House That Woodrow Built at ZETA Contemporary Art Center.

Curated by Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei, and accompanied by a catalogue featuring architectural diagrams by Jora Kasapi, this exhibition presents a collection of troubling archival remainders that haunt the subconscious of contemporary Albanian politics.

Among these unarchivable objects, unmoored from time yet forced into spatial coexistence inside the gallery, visitors encounter the wooden roof beams of The Yellow House (Shtëpia e Verdhë) a juridically contested site of purported war crimes; objects salvaged from the debris of The Albanian National Theater (Teatri Kombëtar), a site of cultural resistance and protests that lasted from 2018 until the theater’s destruction by the government in 2020; and the colonial furniture from the US Embassy in Tirana, remnants of an imperialist ensemble elevated in space.

A series of public talks will take place at ZETA during the duration of the MANIFESTO project.

On July 5, 7:00pm, German curator Sonja Lau will present “The Violent Curator,” an exploration of belligerence and vandalism as a curatorial strategy.

On July 6, 7:00pm, American art historian Raino Isto will present “Landscape with a Man Killed by a Snake,” a speculative effort to map the contours of a potential emancipatory capitalist realism in the context of today’s ubiquitous economies of extraction.

Finally, on September 11, 7:00pm, Albanian art theorist Jonida Gashi will present “Art as a Medium of Truth,” which investigates the phenomenon of the hoax as a formative event in rewriting the history of contemporary art in Albania, starting from the case of the 1st Tirana Biennial.

On September 9, Albanian activists Redon Skikuli and Boris Budini will organize CryptoParty 2022, a workshop and gathering in which members of the public will learn about strategies for protecting their private information from corporate and government entities.

MANIFESTO will also inaugurate several online projects, including Relational Aesthetics, a map of the connections between the global art world and Albanian politics; Nothing to Hide, an application that empowers citizens to map the systems that surveill them in Albanian public space; and Internet War, an ongoing conceptual text project by Italian artist Marco Mazzi that explores the narration of war from the Gulf War to the present day, piecing together fragmented newspaper articles, interviews, and creative writings.

Finally, MANIFESTO will see the launch of Biblioteka Art & Politikë, a series of monographs and edited volumes–published by the independent publishing house Pika Pa Sipërfaqe–that focuses on bringing current debates in contemporary art and criticism to the Albanian public.

DebatikCenter of Contemporary Art is a nexus of artists, academics, activists, architects, imaginary and real collectives, critics, curators, journalists, translators, and others who seek to shine a light on authoritarian practices in Albania, but also to offer the necessary tools to imagine alternative futures and strategies of resistance to the status quo.

ZETA Contemporary Art Center is a non-profit exhibition space founded in 2007 by Valentina Koça. ZETA functions as an autonomous cultural venue for multidisciplinary approaches to the visual arts, including painting, sculpture, photography, video, installation, sound, and performance.

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