British Council in the Western Balkans
"Gallery70" is one of the few contemporary galleries in Tirana that aims to build long-term relationships with local and international artists. With a multidisciplinary and educational activity, "Gallery70" has been offering an innovative, dynamic and attractive approach for years, inviting everyone to discover, explore and access art, staying true to the motto of
gallery: "Art is unique, it's the perfect gift, it's for everyone, it's magical, passionate and real!"
Last month, "Gallery70", in cooperation with the British Council, has brought to the audience a new presentation format for artists and their work. As part of #creativeproducers" program developed by British Council for the Western Balkans "Gallery70" presented under the name "ARTMAGNIFIER" a series of short films on the life and artistic activity of artists Jon Kraja, Ergys Zhabjaku, Martin Stommel and Morag Caister. To find out more about this initiative and the perspective of this format, we interviewed Lauresha Basha, who tells more about this experience and the perspectives it offers to local artists.
1- "Gallery70", is transformed into a point of reference for art events in the cultural life of the capital, being this the numerous exhibitions, promotion of young artists, investment to take the works of local artists abroad and to present international artists in the country and now it comes with an innovation for the local market, an experience inspired by international galleries. We are talking about "ARTMAGNIFIER", a series of films documenting the life and creativity of local artists and international artists that have exhibited at "Gallery70".How was "ARTMAGNIFIER" born?
LB: "Artmagnifier" as an idea started almost two years ago. It is part of the strategy "Gallery70", to empower the artist and to complete his profile with a short film. "Artmagnifier", conceived as a narrative in five to six minutes, serves as a magnifying glass to enter into artist's vast world and discover him in a very personal and intimate way. Many international museums and galleries have already created large databases of their artists. Short films establish a dialogue between the artist and the audience, often becoming catalysts of artist's career and thanks to technology these films are accessible to a global and very diverse audience.
It was a great opportunity when at the end of last year the British Council organized an open call for creative producers in the Western Balkans, where we applied and were selected. The support through the grant gave us the opportunity to start the project supported by one grant awarded by the British Council.
2- So far, 4 films have been produces, respectively for the artists Jon Kraja, Ergys Zhabjaku,Martin Stommel and Morag Caister, can you mention some elements that each of them has introduced in these films, what should the public await ?
LB: I believe that the most special thing the artists has been their honest and direct communication. They invite the audience into conversation and they tell the public where they find inspiration, how they start a work, what role color plays, how light is sought..These conversations happen in the studio, in the garden of the house, in the gallery or simply on the morning walk with the dog. These moments that the public spends in the intimate and personal space of the artist are a unique experience. We hope that by experiencing such inspiring experiences, people will have the desire to return to the artist's work, to spend more time to understand, get to know and why not, collect the work of the artist.
3- Interesting and always controversial, Jon Kraja, unlike other artists, comes with a performative film, his choice was the script "without a script", how was this film developed?
LB: As I mentioned, artists came with their own narrative and personal approach to the public in these short films. Jon Kraja and British filmmaker Richard Lipman proposed this one. It's an artistic concept that goes well with any of the artists .
4- These films come as you mentioned in the framework of the cooperation with the British Council in the Western Balkans, as part of the "Creative Producers" program in the Western Balkans, can you tell us a little more about this project and its goals?
LB: The British Council call for creative producers had two stages; the first stage, the selection and training of "Creative Producers" and the second stage, the grant application. The training experience was very useful not only to better understand how the world of production works, but also to create a network with colleagues from the Balkans and Great Britain. In the second phase, we chose to apply with "ARTMAGNIFIER" because we believe it is an innovation project for our market. It contributes to the recognition and promotion of artists, but above all there are chances for the project to grow organically and multidimensionally, becoming a dynamic platform that contributes to artists exchange , within the Western Balkans, within Europe and beyond. The important thing for us is that we set an aesthetic and professional standard and we communicated this standard to the public. I believe we were lucky that we were supported by the British Council, which thanks to many years of experience, contributed with available mechanisms to build forward-looking models.
5- The films for "ARTMAGNIFIER", as a result of the "Creative Producers" program, brought one collaboration with documentarian and filmmaker Richard Lipman, how was it for you to search and discover Albanian and international artists in the local context?
LB: Finding a British collaborator for "ARTMAGNIFIER" was a real challenge. First, because we had very little time available, and secondly, the funds were modest for the ambition we had set ourselves. Many phone calls, many e-mails with acquaintances and unknown, with artists and non-artists and finally we succeeded and selected Richard Lipman. First, we organized several meetings on "Zoom" to determine the details of the work plan and in April he came to Tirana to film for three days. The inclusion of a British professional in the team was important to bring a different perspective to the project, but also to open up new opportunities for cooperation and introduction to the British creative market.
6- You say that these productions brought about a multidisciplinary interaction with the involvement in production of the artist Boiken Lako and the collaboration with the camera of Arnold Halil, both multi-dimensional artists, how was this collaboration?
LB: The collaboration with Boiken Lako and Arnold Halil has been one of the most beautiful cooperation of the project. They are two tireless professionals. It was a very busy period, but this did not prevent them from dedicating the late hours of the night to create and present on time a product of the highest quality, and above all professionally perfect. It was interesting to see that the care for the details of each film and for each of the artists went beyond a purely professional responsibility. This kind of dedication cannot be bought with money and I believe that the public has also perceived it.
7- Will "Gallery 70" bring other films for other artists?
LB: Yes definitely! At "Gallery70" we try not to engage in random projects but to stay loyal to the longterm and sustainable strategy. We want "ARTMAGNIFIER" to become a dynamic platform and we are working to ensure the right partners for the continuation of the project.
8- What are the following steps that you plan for the promotion. The premiere appeared in the hall of the main movie theater of the country "Milenium Cinema’, will we have a festival with films about artists?
The first step was the presentation in the "Milenium" cinema. The broadcast of films about artists on the magic screen of the cinema was a wonderful moment for the public. The emotion experienced in a movie theater is not easily forgotten and we believe that this is how we make an important contribution to the education of audiences with visual art. Creating a section of short films for visual artists within a film festival is one of the project that we would like to build in the future.
9- Let's stop a little at the artistic calendar of the gallery, what awaits us this season?
LB: During the summer we will have an exhibition on the "Art Salon" format, where we will bring back to the public works from the collection. In the fall there will be two exhibitions, one of which is OAS2022 – the third edition for the presentation of young artists at "Gallery70". They are selected through an international jury. This year we are very happy that the Jury of the gallery professionals have been joined by three young international artists: two Dutch and one Austrian, Jan Dirk Adams, Constantijn Scholten and Alex Iwanov, who will also be the curator of the exhibition. Applications are under evaluation and selected artists will be notified at the end of the month.
This article was prepared by Wendi Morava for Revista Elegance