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Debate: "The importance of the use of old buildings as alternative space for contemporary art"

Autostrada Biennale started paving the road with a series of artistic events that will culminate in 2017 with the final organization, the first edition of the International Biennale of Contemporary Art.

The initiative for the use of alternative spaces was concretized with the debate “The importance of the use of old buildings as alternative space for contemporary art”, organized by Autostrada Biennale, in cooperation with Cultural Heritage without Borders (CHwB).

With the aim to promote the old buildings that have cultural heritage value, at hydropower plant museum "Prizrenasja", in Lumbardhi valley, debated: Senat Haliti- architect (CHwB), Fitore Isufi (KOJA) – artist (Autostrada Biennale), Nora Arapi Krasniqi - architect (Ministry of Culture), Ema Andrea -director (M.A.M. Foundation) and FisnikMinci – moderator.

In the monument area that is protected by the state, artists, activists and representatives of institutions have conducted workshops and debate on the importance of using old buildings and the potential to be re destinated as artistic space.

According to the artist from Italy, Stefano Romano, art is always political: “In the contemporary world, with all the problems we have, international, social, religious and political, artists desire to go out of the white box, the common idea of gallery, and that’s the biggest political and contemporary act that artists can make.”

Curator Klod Dedja expressed the opinion, that there is no better place for artists than a hydropower plant, where once energy was produced, which is the main element for creators. According to him, although contemporary art in the world has reached perfection, Balkans is the next surprise to open more consciously.

“Artists have always been courageous and the use of alternative spaces by artists of contemporary art has come because of such approach”, said artist Fitore Isufi – Koja. According to her, artists today are very brave, reactive and demanding in their operations: "Artists firstly fall in love to alternative spaces, are provoked by them. Then they provoke the others by their contemporary activities, and thus increase the level of awareness by pushing others to also love that place, to attend and as result, to have the courage to respond as a society “.

Speaking about the projects implemented in Albania, that tried converting unused space into artistic residences, like former villa of dictator Enver Hoxhain Tirana, and provocative activity in “Metalurgjiku”, Ema Andrea, director at “M.A.M. Foundation”, emphasized social interaction that these projectshave brought.

While Senat Haliti, architect at NGO “Cultural Heritage without Borders” (CHwB) mentioned that art has played an important role during the restoration works on various projects, and through art new debates are for putting cultural heritage in the service of public.

Institutional readiness was expressed, forthese venues should not remain empty and without function, but used to promote art and culture. Nora Arapi - Krasniqi, architect engaged in the Ministry of Culture, expressed her confidence that the issues regarding this subject are expected to be addressed by the laws and the new Law on Cultural Heritage.

Leutrim Fishekqiu (Autostrada Biennale) stated that Autostrada Biennale comes with a geographical concept, as a new art road, situated between Venice Biennale and Istanbul Biennale. He added that Prizren is a place rich in cultural heritage and there are many unused old buildings, which Autostrada Bienale will use as alternative space for contemporary art: “Old buildings need to be taken care of and need greater promotion, while Autostrada Biennale needs such spaces.”

Biennale activities will be extended to other cities, while most of the events will take place in Prizren, which is home to Autostrada Biennale.

Conclusions drawn from this debate will help the planning and preparations for the first edition of Autostrada Biennale, which aims to contribute in the field of contemporary art through various artistic events, to educate and offer opportunities to local and international artiststo cultivate their art in favour of socio-cultural development of the region.