Accepted Paper:

Targeted interventions, diffuse impacts: visual art and its sphere of influence in post-socialist Albania  

Author:

Sofia Kalo (University of Massachusetts, Amherst)

Paper short abstract:

I discuss the expanding discourse on and practice of socially-engaged visual art in post-socialist Albania by tracing the strategies that the different players who operate within the field of art production employ toward this endeavor.

Paper long abstract:

During the first decade following socialism's collapse, Albanian visual artists produced work which referred to its prohibitions [e.g. sexuality and abstract styles] and negated its principles [e.g. realism and art with social impact], both to engage with Western modernity and to distance themselves from the discredited socialist state.

More recently, however, with Albania's integration into the global economy, the growing number of non-for-profit cultural organizations, and the presence of international agencies, art is being increasingly considered as a mode of social intervention, impact and critique. Today, members of the art community use their work to open up discursive spaces that challenge the rhetoric of national and international structures of power and address the uncertainties produced by the Albanian state, particularly its failed efforts to institute democratic governance or change Albania's marginal status in Europe.

In this paper, I explore the expanding discourse on and practice of socially-engaged visual art in Albania by tracing the strategies that the different players who operate within the field of art production employ toward this endeavor. I also discuss the ways in which the values and resources of the socialist past intersect with those of the neoliberal present in creating this discourse and practice, the extent to which they are locally determined or encouraged by international agencies, and the factors that thwart and mitigate visual art's intended impact in a post-socialist context.

Panel W075
The visual in times of uncertainty: experience lived/experience recorded