• Driton Hajredini: Who killed the painting?
Working for one month per year for art

Working for one month per year for art
Selection from the Rron Dalladaku Collection and archival material from the conference Art Market and Smile!

Jakup Ferri, Driton Hajredini, Genc Kadriu, Alban Muja, Rron Qena, Lulzim Zeqiri

Curatorial by: Albert Heta

Opening: 29 March 2012, 20:00
29 March 2012 - 28 April 2012

'Working for one moth per year for art' or current models of art collecting, in a country without a contemporary art market, is a project based on the analysis of a specific model of contemporary art collection and a public presentation of the material of the conference "Art Market and Smile!" with panelists Vesa Sahatciu, Luan Mulliqi, Tamer Bushtra, Afrim Ethemi, Gani Llalloshi and Sislej Xhafa, organized in 2008, by Stacion - Center for Contemporary Art.

'Working for one moth per year for art' is physically based on the remaining traces of the previous exhibition at Stacion ('I have also other favorites' (28/12/2011 - 4/2/2012) with works by Jen Davis, Qendrese Deda, Majlinda Hoxha, Joanna Jennings, Genc Kadriu, Blerta Kambo, Wei Leng Tay, Ferdinand Von Bozen, Mimi Youn, Shen Wei, Lin Zhipeng) from which one of the exhibited works during the timing of the exhibition was acquired and became part of the collection. This collection, initiated by Rron Dalladaku, so far, includes works of Jakup Ferri, Driton Hajredini, Genc Kadriu, Alban Muja, Rron Qena and Lulzim Zeqiri.

Another element included in the preparation process of this exhibition, is the acquisition of the first video work for the collection, the video documentation of the performance 'Shiriti i zi ta zen frymen' ('Black tape can make you stop breathing') by Rron Qena (2007). The main reason for mentioning this detail is also the fact that it seems that this video is the first video work made by a Kosovar artist, which has become a part of a collection initiated by a Kosovar collector. I would love if there would be an art historian to say to me that this is not the first case of this kind in this scene! The fact that this is happening in year 2012 is an indicator of the society's general stagnation, lack of orientation by young artists and a part of contemporary art scene; but maybe and above all, the fact that this has happened already has to be understood as a new beginning.

On account of his collection and invitation to exhibit a part of the collection, Rron Dalladaku, among others wrote: "Andy Warhol once said: "An artist is someone who produces things that people don't need to have but that he - for some reason - thinks it would be a good idea to give them." I agree with Andy, but I also share the artist's opinion. I do not need these things (art), but I think it's a good idea to have them in my life.

I had been developing these kind of ideas by myself for a while, but it wasn't until last year that the idea of starting a collection was brought to my mind. It was rather spontaneous, after my last year's birthday party. A cherished friend of mine (who is of course an artist) basically accused me of wasting money with these parties at my place. He suggested I should rather spend a portion of this kind of money for something more substantial, like art. He had a point. I was constantly criticizing. I was accusing him and my other close artist friends of being way too idle and lethargic. But on the other hand I was also unhappy with our society as a whole for not being creative and proactive at all and insufficiently investing in art, while at the same time continually expecting the artistic community to come up with creative ways to address problems. Yet once again, an artist inspired an idea to solve my long lasting dilemma. I agreed to start a collection, but not without a clear concept. I would work one month per year for art. This basically meant that every year from now on, I would spend the amount of one month's salary to acquire artists' works. I am currently earning my salary in Kosovo. But even more importantly, I have an emotional connection to and a fairly good insight into its contemporary art scene. So I decided to start the collection with works of contemporary Kosovar artists.

Fortunately, I can call some of the most interesting young artists in this country my dear friends. When I started inquiring about the prices of my favourite pieces, almost all of the approached artists offered to humble me with an 'I-love-the- idea-discount'. Therefore, only one year after everything started, the number of works I acquired with one month's salary did eventually grow big enough to allow me to call this a small collection with some of my favourite contemporary art pieces from Kosovo. "

Individual art collecting in this society seems to have existed since the time when social and political space for art practice was created. As such, these initiatives always missed a mechanism or a self-sustaining specific economical concept, or a public purpose, and until now they never managed to reach a level of development that would transform this activity into a system.

Without going into detailed analysis of global effects of the art market today or the pro and cons of having such a system, I would just like to mention one of the reasons behind the missing contemporary art market in this country, or in simpler words, why there are no private contemporary art galleries existing in this scene, an important part of the a desired system. With the term "the private gallery" we describe a profitable private enterprise and not an enterprise that uses public funds and at the same time an enterprise that partially benefits from selling artworks or renting space.

There was a clear reason why private galleries or the art market were not part of the structures of socialist system of organizing art in Kosova, as in all ex-socialist countries.

Even today, in countries that were once part of the socialist block, not including countries currently functioning with a hyper-extorting capitalism based on the premises "state is a private company" and we are a (ex) communist country, only few successful examples of creating the western capitalist system of exchanging works of art as a material value or commodity are to be found.

In my opinion, the missing art market in Kosova, is the void created when the system of public collecting of artworks ceased to exist, and the impossibility of replacing this system with private individual initiatives or dysfunctional public institutions in the times of the missing socialist system. As an example one can talk about the collection of the Kosova Art Gallery, created mostly from the works acquired though the acquisition procedures of the Provincial BVI (Union for the Interest of Self-governance) for Culture (in Albanian: BVI-ja (Bashkesia e Interesit Veteqeverises) Krahinore per Kulture) of the Socialist Autonomous Province of Kosova.

The same void is present in other areas of the structure of our new society.

With minor research efforts one can find information revealing and important the of architectural practices, of the time in focus, in creating supporting structures for art in Kosova. Agush Beqiri, a renowned interior designer, in most of his interior designs for buildings of then powerful companies like Grand Hotel Prishtina and Hotel Metohia in Peje, as an important part of his work, frequently included works by Kosovar artists in painting, tapestry, drawing and sculpture. His practice became a powerful supporting mechanism for the works of Kosovar artists.

In contrast, today, no public space in which a painting can be displayed, or a video can be projected can be found in the newly designed building of the Academy of Arts and Science of Kosova. And there are other examples.

Rron Dalladaku's collection presents an important model to be analyzed, moreover because of its contained conceptual mechanisms.

Imagine the situation where Rron Dalladaku becomes a billionaire and from his yearly income continues to dedicate the one salary out of twelve to buy contemporary artwork. Add to this the fact that in that time he collects in a conceptually structured way and also outside of our social circle.

To work a month a year for art and Smile!

Albert Heta