Tirana
TICA, one year later

Back in Tirana, I find out that TICA is up and running, but still has no permanent space

The tiny and overcrowded TICA office is still located in the Pyramid. But the government has plans to turn this unholy edifice into a new Opera - somehow, it still attracts the impossibly grandiose and pompous, some twenty years after it was built as a mausoleum for Enver Hoxha.

TICA, the Tirana Institute of Contemporary Art, has yet to move permanently into the large and promising space that they discovered last year, located on the ground floor in a new residential and commercial area behind Tirana's football stadium. International, let alone local funding on a structural basis for an innovative and inclusive centre like TICA is still hard to find. While international foundations seem to shy away from getting involved in long-term projects like these, maybe out of earlier negative experiences, maybe out of the dogma that cultural initiatives in this region should be ready to become self-sustainable by now, the vital necessity of such new spaces remains undiminished. A city like Tirana glaringly lacks the time and the place to present, develop and exchange innovative art and its makers, especially those who have the sophistication and sense of responsibility needed to break through the stereotypes that paralyze societies like these.

So over the past year, while not having been able to settle yet, the six curators that form TICA have worked hard to keep its energy and propositions visible throughout different locations in the city - most of which are still bogged down by institutional burocracy and can only be claimed temporarily. On the day of my arrival, the activity is palpable. Edi Muka and Joa Ljungberg are busy preparing for Fairytale, a group show opening on March 31st.

image
erik goengrich: houses from tirana
And I walk up to the Pyramid just in time to see the last image that Erik Goengrich, a Berlin city-artist, has projected on the outer facade, showing his interpretations of the urbanization boost Tirana is going through, from the top of a tiny pick-up truck. This was the most recent event in the 1.60 series, curated by Stefano Romano.

Tina Finnas, the young artist and curator from Finland who has been part of the TICA team from the outset, looks a bit pale from exhaustion. Over the past few months, while the others in the team have been occupied elsewhere (Romano is in Italy, Gezim Qendro is entrenched in the final phases of his thesis on the relations between communist realism, theology and utopia, Muka and Ljungberg are also curating the next Goteborg Biennale, Monica Melin had to cancel her trip because of illness), Finnas acted as curator, diplomat, webmaster, producer and host all at the same time.



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