Tirana, City of a Thousand Copies

By Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei,
Tirana, City of a Thousand Copies

On several social media websites, Albanian citizens have noticed that the Facebook page of Mayor Erion Veliaj, which features an uncomfortable amount of underage children in the presence of a broadly smiling mayor, is using stock footage from around the world to showcase his own city “beyond belief.”

For example, a nature shot from Kings Canyon National Park in California showed up as his Facebook morning post, suggesting it was taken somewhere in the municipality (see above).

For those who have followed Veliaj’s interventions in public space, this is nothing new. Even the slogan he has chosen on his Facebook, “Tirana, A Place Beyond Belief” has been copied from an art work he saw exhibited inside the COD, Nathan Coley’s “A Place Beyond Belief.”

In fact, Veliaj has been doing a lot of copying lately. His project to paint all the façades, is literally a copy of Edi Rama’s project from the early 2000s. His masterplan project is in essence a copy of the economic model that Rama used during his term: generating income through building permits (and in Veliaj’s case, concessions).

But the copy-paste style doesn’t stop here. It goes from the very large, such as entire pieces of legislation, to the very small, such as local maps, monuments, or museum entrances. Below is a part of the collection I have been building up. Let’s call it an exercise in visual literacy:

Left: information boards in Frankfurt; Right: information boards in Tirana;
Left: information boards in Frankfurt; Right: information boards in Tirana.
Top: CIA Memorial Wall; Bottom: State Police Memorial Wall.
Top: CIA Memorial Wall; Bottom: State Police Memorial Wall.
Top: Hall of Names, Yad Vashem; Entrance to Bunk'Art 2, Tirana.
Top: Hall of Names, Yad Vashem; Entrance to Bunk’Art 2, Tirana.

Note: the idea with the lights on the faces was copied from artist Christian Boltanksi.

Top: Brass bricks (Stolpersteine) in Raesfeld, Germany, commemorating victims of the Nazi regime; Bottom: Brass tiles designed by 51NE4 commemorating the victims of January 21, 2011. The hand is Rama's.
Top: Brass bricks (Stolpersteine) in Raesfeld, Germany, commemorating victims of the Nazi regime; Bottom: Brass tiles designed by 51NE4 commemorating the victims of January 21, 2011. The hand is Rama’s.
Top: Newborn Monument, Prishtina; Bottom: I LOVE TIRANA, Tirana.
Top: Newborn Monument, Prishtina; Bottom: I LOVE TIRANA, Tirana.

Note: Initially, people could write on the Tirana letters just like on the Newborn Monument. After a few weeks, the municipality – always suffering from horror vacui – decided that some street artist should deal with it. The “heart” of “I LOVE TIRANA” on the left, mainly outside the frame of this image, is a cage-like structure on which people can hang padlocks, an idea copied from the Pont des Arts in Paris. This is truly a monstrous intervention, visually splicing the iconic “I <3 NY” slogan with the Newborn Monument and the padlocks of the Parisian bridge.

Update: The full image of the “I LOVE TIRANA” installation:

i love tirana



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Kristjan Xhelili
2 months 19 days ago

Mir per ate te stock photos, po me planet ca keni? I ps eshte ia ka dhene edi vete ndoshta ku dini ju? Edhe sloganin sma merr mendja se ka hyre aq thelle per ta gjetur. Ju mbushni xhepat me revenue se informacioni i sakte ska rendesi