Architecture + Art : Crossover and Collaboration

Edi Rama and Anri Sala
19 October 2009, 7.00pm

Edi Rama and Anri Sala
Chaired by Jessica Morgan, Curator, Tate Modern

When former artist Edi Rama became mayor of Tirana in 2000 he immediately set upon a controversial project to enliven the troubled Albanian capital by re-painting the city’s decaying buildings in a riotous array of colour and pattern. An aesthetic and political act, which prompted social transformation, and much debate, through its visualization of signs of change. Three years later Rama and the project became the subject of artist (and friend) Anri Sala’s film, Dammi I Colori. The next year, Rama was voted World Mayor 2004.

The success of Rama’s actions prompted an international contemporary art biennale in the city, which in its 2003 edition saw Anri Sala and Hans Ulrich Obrist adopt and adapt the mayor’s façades project as a curatorial endeavor – inviting artists such as Olafur Eliasson, Liam Gillick and Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster to contribute designs and turn residential blocks into unique works of art. The project continues, and in the biennale’s 2009 edition features contributions from Tomma Abts, Franz Ackermann and more. A discussion of artistic urbanism, the city as canvas and exhibition, and public art in its most direct form.

Image: Olafur Eliasson, Pattern, 2003. Courtesy the artist and T.I.C.A.B