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Dammi i Colori (transcript)

by on November 13, 2006

Tirana, Albania.

“The city was dead. It looked like a transit station where one could stay only if waiting for something. It looked like a body that kept growing silently older where all the turbulence of the riots and the events that occurred took place as if in an alien setting. It swallowed up everything without being affected. This is a question of finding out how this city can become habitable and how to transform it from a city where you are doomed to live by fate into a city where you choose to live.  The colour was a process that made it possible to experience time as a common element.

“All this landscape modified through the use of colour is a landscape that reflects the decades-long debasement of the individual through the indifference of the state. The question here is that colour has also another role: it must bind together all the volumes that have been brutally and individually added to the original surface, not by the hand of an artist but by the anonymous hands of the residents who have had to expand their living space, and who normally when building their balconies, or in adding another floor or a shop, were not concerned that the form that would be created by their brutal action should be in harmony with the form that would be created as a result of the violation of the building surface by the neighbour, or the neighbour of the neighbour. It is not a matter of what colour you may want to have the balcony painted; it is not a matter of what colour you may want this or that building, because that would be a question of trying to add up all the tastes and find the golden mean, which would be a grey.

“What we have done is not an outcome of democratisation but more an avant-garde of democratisation. This is rather a process that precedes and co-travels with the democratisation of this country, this community, than a process that is closed in itself, and  which sets a model. This does not mean that it should also happen to other cities. It does not mean either that other cities should envy this city. It would make no sense for this to be in a city that establishes communication and relationships with people in other ways quite natural and satisfactory for them. This is the difference.

“Colour has an impact on the intensification of the rhythm of breathing, the breaking of a dust screen, and the creation of a new era for the city. There is a paradox here because it is the poorest country in Europe, rife with problems, and I do not think there is any other country in Europe, be it the richest, where people discuss so passionately and collectively about colours. The hottest discussion in the coffee bars, in homes, in the streets, was what are the colours doing to us?

“I think that the ambition to make this city a city of choice and not of destiny is a utopia in itself. I think that a city where things develop normally might wear colours as a dress, not have them as organs. In a way, colours here replace the organs, they are not part of the dress. That kind of city would wear colours like a dress or like a lipstick. I do not know how it is for others, but the relationship between the mayor and his elector is like the relationship between an artist and the spectator. It is a very stressful relationship, it’s a daily effort under people’s very eyes which after all, aims at people’s hearts. The colours I use are no longer an element or a frustrating presence within four walls that come back to me with the idea whether it is worthwhile painting at all today, if my painting makes any sense, if it makes sense that I have settled in a foreign capital and paint. Who am I to paint and why should I paint rather than do something else instead? What is important to me is that I am done with this debate. I am not interested in it any more. I do not deem it necessary to respond to these questions.

“Take some red colour from the car’s break light and throw it out in the dark, it looks nice.”

DR 13/11/06

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4 Comments
  1. I really enjoyed reading this – lots of resonances

  2. Sorry, It’s Tirana, the capital of Albania. The artist, Anri Sala, was interviewing the Mayor, Edi Rama. It goes with my review of the same name, in talks and writing here.

    I’ve added the location to the transcript, so it’s clearer: thanks Mary.

  3. Mary Phillips permalink

    I really enjoyed reading that, but I feel very ignorant, not knowing what city it is.

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