TICA – Tirana Institute of Contemporary Art & TICAB – Tirana International Contemporary Art Biennial

At this conference TICA and TICAB are represented by Fabiola Haxhillari, Coordinator, Fund Raiser and Press Officer at TICAB:

c/o Zeta Gallery, Hekla Center, Rr. Abdyl Frasheri, p.31, A4. Tirana, Albania
www.tica-albania.org
Contact: Edi Muka & Tina Finnas & Fabiola Haxhillaari

cultural center (arts and other cultural activities)
non-profit associations / NGOs, TICAB established in 2002, TICA in 2006, by a group of professional artists

TICA – the Tirana Institute of Contemporary Art – is the first centre for contemporary art in Tirana. It offers a much-needed permanent platform for Albanian and international contemporary art in Albania. In recent years, the Albanian scene has thrived, with various events of different size and quality. The Tirana Biennale has been Albania’s most ambitious art event, yet a biennale only takes place every second year, leading to a serious discontinuity in the art scene, which also suffers from extremely limited institutional and private support. TICA has thus been an important complement that supports a vital art scene on a more continuous basis. Its diverse program is backed up by a light and flexible organizational structure that has allowed exhibitions, film screenings and performance events to take place and has created a forum for discussions and debates about art, politics, and power. Through its various programs of Artists in Residency, exhibitions, workshops, and talks, TICA will be an attempt to reintroduce culture as one of the most effective ways to push for critical thinking about our contemporary condition and will bring together all the energies, knowledge, and contacts of every founding member, to create an independent platform for socio-politically-engaged contemporary art.

TICAB – the Tirana International Contemporary Art Biennial – is Albania’s largest international art event, working with contemporary art as a tool to analyze our contemporary condition and as a critical voice in social discourse. It was started with the aim to provide a platform for exchange, which would offer chances for the local art scene to connect to the international art scene, where artists would interact with each other and with the context, and in compensation for the practical impossibilities for travel and artistic encounters experienced by a vital generation of Albanian artists at the time. Since 2006, TICAB has been organized and managed by TICA, the Tirana Institute of Contemporary Art.

Franz Ackermann Albanian Platform wall painting and water-colors, 2009.

Decision-making: As a way of working, our structure since the very beginning has been to work with a number of invited curators. The structure has undergone changes for each edition, until it started to consolidate around the formula experimented with in 2005. On the practical level, the organizers of the Biennial (Muka-Qendro, or Muka-Ljungberg, 2009), conceive a working concept/theme that tries to reflect on specific issues of our contemporary condition and their relation to the context (Albania – Tirana). After this formulation, a number of international curators are invited to collaborate in realizing the biennial. The curators are mostly invited on the basis of their working profile and the respective affiliation with the biennial’s proposed theme and concept. A number of advisors (mostly artists or former curators of the biennial) are consulted in the process. The invited curators are asked to develop their contribution (mostly in the form of an exhibition) independently from each other but in relation to the theme/concept.

Organizational openness: The element of organizational openness may be positively dictated by a negative factor – the lack of financial support – that excludes TICAB from the trend encountered in most biennials (aiming at an international reach) and makes it focus more on the interaction between artists, curators, and the local audience and community. In this sense, even though it repeats a certain scheme of reproducing values belonging to capitalist society.

TICAB both financially and artistically remains a biennial “free from constraints” of many kinds, most of all the constraint of the pressure to “perform” for the sake of improving its international placement or for the sake of the art market (which is totally nonexistent in Albania). As such, it offers more space to change, experiment and adapt itself to new contents every time it is organized.

On the other hand, the lack of regular financial support creates serious obstacles to constructing a solid base that could be gradually developed. It also has a negative impact on possibilities to work with the event, something that has tied it too much to myself [Edi Muka] and the necessity of me being the only person responsible for organizing it.

Francis Alys 15+1 Installation, found plates broken and reassemble/BW photography 2009.

Venue/s / resources: TICAB is a non-financed initiative. We do not have any budget for structural costs and no continuous support, therefore we need to “close down” after each edition and start the fundraising process from scratch every time. This is mainly because there is no legal framework allowing for long-term grants in the institutional sphere (local or central government) in Albania, or in the private sector. For the first 3 editions, the Municipality of Tirana was TICAB’s only institutional partner and supporter. As a result of petty political games between the 2 main parties, support for TICAB was lost in 2009. We therefore we received no contribution at all from any institution but were able to fundraise from private companies and international grants. Such a situation means that TICAB is organized and directed on a voluntary, unpaid basis. If in 2005 we managed to pay our staff, albeit only symbolically, in 2009 the entire organizing staff of the biennial (excluding technicians) worked on a voluntary basis.

Budget:
Yearly program costs of TICA: less than €100,000.
Biennial budget: more than €100,000 and less than €300,000.

Co-productions: We do have co-productions. There is no specific model or way of operating; instead, everything is resolved on a case-specific basis, with resources shared and evaluated depending on each collaboration. The only exception is the Regional Collaboration project “Individual Utopias”, which was supported by the SCP Regional office.

Hosting: We do host programs. There is no specific model or way of operating; instead, everything is resolved on a case-specific basis, with resources shared and evaluated depending on each collaboration.

Services: We produce works for local artists (and, during the biennial, also several projects for international artists).

International collaboration: In the context of a long-isolated country and art scene, we consider international collaboration of crucial importance to the development of the local scene. Over the years, we have witnessed amazing results from collaborative projects between local and international artists in particular, while visits of international professionals have paved the way for new contacts and possibilities for young local artists.

Episode 2, curated by STEALTH. Unlimited, from the installation Cities Log

Participation: Even though we do not have the resources to engage in proper participatory projects, we combine our residency, exhibition, and lecture programs with active participation by students, young artists, and the wider public, often by involving people from other areas of expertise to widen the spectrum of themes and issues discussed.

Neighborhood: Rather than to any specific neighborhood, we have many connections and various artistic projects and interventions in the city at large.

Municipality: Relations were good in the past but have collapsed in the last 3 years.

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