An Interview with Edi Muka


Edi Muka b


Edi Muka was in Skopje for the public discussion “Investing in Art/The Culture or Possibilities for De-masking” within the program “The Perfect Artist” curated by Ivana Vaseva. He is one of the most prominent curators in Europe.  He’s been co-founder and director of Tirana Biennale, co-curated the third edition of the International Art Meetings in Medelline, Colombia; he curated together with Joa Ljunberg the fourth edition of the Gothenburg International Biennale for Contemporary Art; he was a curator in Roda Sten Kunsthall in Gothenburg; and since 2014 he is a curator in Public Art Agency in Sweden…

Edi Muka d


In your comment during today’s discussion you mentioned that during 90s. when Albanians were required to have visas, artists were the last ones to receive it; artists then couldn’t travel almost anywhere. Who from the art world, EU and from the western societies showed empathy with Albanian artists then?

Receiving of visas then was always obtained through different individuals that were employed in different western embassies; depending on how much responsive and interested they were for culture and artists. This was because of the Schengen agreement according to which if you got visa for one country you may travel to the others. We were always using this kind of direct relationship. A cultural attaché was attentive so one can provide visas for artists. Then they could travel where the exhibitions were happening, in other countries as well.

– You cannot remember anything else in particular?

No there wasn’t anything or anybody else. It was a personal relationship.

– How do you define the cultural and the art-map in Europe now? Can you separate it on Nordic and Southern, and on Eastern and Western part? Or do you think that now everything has much become part of the globalization, even a pan Atlantic appearance…

Depends what you mean more precisely- the production or the product. In the organizational manner for example in the Nordic countries the state is more supportive toward the artists, in the southern countries not so much, in America there is no ministry of culture. Ivana (Dragsic) mentioned this term precariat. And I think this is what applies to the artists on the global scale. In some countries there are better supportive mechanisms; in a sense that these mechanisms are not for the protection of the artists but just for their supporting. In others these mechanisms don’t exist at all. But there are always other kinds of differences. For example in North-Western Europe there is institutional support but there is no such thing as large art market there. In South-Western Europe, in Italy for example, there is no institutional support but there is a big private gallery scene that provides opportunities. Both of the systems in their essence are problematic because within both of these schemes there is a sort of a dictate within which the artists have to structure the way they operate. But again the position of the artist remains as such- as a precariat all over the world.

Edi Muka c

– How do you see the role of the technology in the today’s artists` career, so to speak? Does it help – now when the artists have less space or perhaps less money to express themselves? Or maybe you see this in another way; because some say that, for example, the computer arts are the future, due to the computers the artists will have more money?

The thing is- I am not technologically a very advanced person. Also I don’t know a lot about the artists that are working with the technology. I believe the technology has helped a lot in a way that with it you can communicate about what you do. With the technology plenty of room and platform is offered to us. As well there is another aspect- with it you can be informed much better and quicker than before- in a way that everyone may be better informed what the other artists and institutions are doing. So as a communication tool it is good, but not necessarily fundamental; so far it hasn’t caused any radical change in the odds of the artist to succeed, not at all.

Edi Muka 3


– How would you define our region; as a Mediterranean, or as an ex-socialist or ex-communist environment for the artist? How would you define it in a sense of its aesthetics?

I would tend not to use those categories. But if I had to use one I would have to use the term that defines the region- Balkan artist and Balkan aesthetics.

– Where do you find the place for the volunteering because a lot of exhibitions, shows and even this event could be organized due to the fact that many people wanted to work for nothing? Do you see this as a very important thing for the future of the art in Europe? And how do you find it here regarding the space in the Nordic countries?

The art world like everything else couldn’t function without any volunteering. Some countries like the Nordic ones have longer tradition for this. So some are better in this issue but some are more creative.

-How did you like the art scene in Macedonia including this event?

The art scene I’m still unfamiliar with. But you are going through an important moment, culturally as well as politically. You have a new minister of culture that is aware of the very complex situation. People I met are very nice and this discussion was organized indeed excellently.

Interviewer and photographer: Igor Pop Trajkov


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