THE FAÇADE PROJECT

TICAB (Tirana International Contemporary Art Biennial) 4

Curated by Edi Muka and Joa Ljungberg

 

2009, public art project

Acrylic paint on mortar

Building dimensions 82’x 305’x 262’

 

Venice Biennale of Architecture 12

 

Curated by Gjergj Bakallbashi

 

This project was also realized as a video for the Venice Biennale of Architecture 12

2010.

DVD, 7 minutes and 6 seconds

Ludwig Museum, Budapest

 

"The Whale That Was a Submarine. Contemporary Positions From Albania and Kosovo"

Group exhibition in 2016

Curated by Julia Fabényi
 

DVD, 7 minutes and 6 seconds

Fondazione Museo Pino Pascali

"Screenings"

Solo exhibition in 2016

Curated by Santa Nastro

DVD, 7 minutes and 6 seconds

Tirana has become renown for the curious project of painting its façades, which was initiated by the former Mayor of the City, Edi Rama, an artist, who upon his election began the revitalization of all the housing blocks and complexes built by earlier socialist governments, whose façades had decayed, marring the visual landscape of the city.

 

In 2003, for the second Tirana Biennial Hans Ulrich Obrist and Anri Sala then curated a group of internationally acclaimed artists to design façades for the city. As a result, proposals by artists Olafur Eliasson, Dominique Gonzalez Foerster, Liam Gillick and Rirkrit Tiravanija were realized on the façades of various housing blocks around the city. After that event, the Town Hall of Tirana continued to invite artists and architecture studios to propose designs for the painting of the façades of other housing blocks.

 

In 2009, for the fourth edition of the Tirana Biennale six more artists were invited to design façades for the city of Tirana. The following year this project was then represented at the Venice Biennale of Architecture 12.

 

In so many ways, the Berlin Wall offered itself as an entrée into conceptualizing a design for the façade of an architectural monument from the socialist past of Albania in the context of its new reality. For the Berlin Wall was a real structure that had stood at the frontier of two obverse ideological systems, and, as such, was both an architectural paradox and emblem. It was an architectural paradox, for it had not one but two façades, as one side’s façade was the other side’s interior. And it was an emblem, for its Janus-faces brutally illustrated the dualism of institutional space during the Cold War. Much the same can be said to hold true of architectural facades more generally. Although most structures are mono-faced, like the Berlin Wall they too more than represent a system—indeed, they are a part of a system, as they are both icons and interior units of the society that produced them. As a result, when a system changes, so too do its buildings, be it because of the new tastes that overlay the old, or because of the economies of scale and/or the forms of sociability that reinvest the same.

 

Consequently, there is something uncanny about a landscape of structures that memorialize the old, while containing the seeds and, indeed, systemic ways of the new. In this landscape, the building is more than a societal unit: it figures as a Janus-faced sign. Akin to the paradox of the Berlin Wall, the building possesses an exterior façade that is the interior of another reality. For this reason, the context of the façades project posed the burning question of how to reverse this semiotic bipolarity of an architectural monument from the socialist past of Albania.

 

The new design for the façade of building no. 10 takes the building inside out—that is, it makes the private public, by encasing the building in signs of its interior self. Thus, the design takes icons from the e~ commerce flourishing within the private interiors of the building and emblazons them on the concrete skin of its public exterior, its façades. At the same time, the design respects the extant architectural form and rhythm of the building, by outlining both its poignant continuities and changes. Are these icons a mere translations of former dichotomy of ideology/reality into a new, if less acknowledged, form? The answer to this question rightfully will be the prerogative of the building’s inhabitants and spectators. 

 

  • Diana Marrone, 2010, The Tirana Façades Project, CultFrame. Follow Link ...

 

  • Public Talk, 2014, "Building Communities Through Public Art," Teachers College, Columbia University.

       Follow Link (minutes 15:15 to 27:00) ...

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