Tirana Floating Tours
Application and Website
Tirana Floating Tours is both an application and an archive for mobile phones and the web, initiated and implemented by Tirana Art Lab – Center for Contemporary Art and supported by the Municipality of Tirana. It is an extension of Tirana Floating Archive and was developed in the framework of the Beyond Matter EU collaboration project, co-funded by Creative Europe. The TFT application consists of four tours through which users can visit different locations around the city of Tirana. The tours lead viewers through historically and architecturally relevant places and additionally offer the possibility to experience present and past art interventions in public spaces.
The city of Tirana has undergone significant transformations since the change of regimes in 1991. Until the mid-2000s, the development of contemporary art discourse in Albania was mainly being carried out by state-run institutions. However, by the latter part of the 2000s, independent initiatives started to emerge, becoming the primary actors in developing contemporary art discourse. The first edition of the Tirana Biennale took place in 2001. During the second Tirana Biennale in 2003, international artists were invited to paint the facades of buildings in the city. This action was initiated by Edi Rama, who was the mayor of Tirana at the time.
Due to the lack of structures and spaces to display art, and as a critique of the rapid and sometimes violent changes in the architecture and urban infrastructure of Tirana, many Albanian and foreign artists from the independent art scene have been using public space as a site to create artworks and interventions. Many of these interventions by the independent art scene have emerged as a critique of the disappearance or misuse of public space by power structures, and as a way to reclaim the public realm. Unfortunately, many of these interventions, both official, such as the facades produced by the Tirana Biennale, and those that are often illegal by the independent art scene, have remained undocumented, unpublished, and inaccessible to the public.
Therefore in our previous project, Tirana Floating Archive, Tirana Art Lab created a digital platform that documented approximately 40 art interventions that occurred in public spaces in Tirana from 2002 up until the present day. This platform was underpinned by a curatorial framework and utilized a heretical approach to retrace and animate art interventions by the independent art scene that demonstrated artistic quality and a meaningful contribution to debates around public space.
Tirana Floating Tours is an application that activates the archive created in Tirana Floating Archive, allowing the user to discover the city of Tirana and its historical, architectural, and art heritage through the features of the app. The app consists of 60 stations divided into four tours, enabling the user to explore the city, revisit relevant locations, and obtain information about the sites, view artworks, and review art interventions from the past, while also experiencing new virtual works.
Using a map, the user can choose their own pathway through the different stations spread around the city for each tour. Each station is equipped with text and audio information about the site in both English and Albanian language, information about the artists or architect, photographs documenting the station, and video material where applicable. Some stations also offer the option of Augmented Reality, enabling the user to experience new artworks created virtually in recent years by artists invited by Tirana Art Lab.
The concept of “floating” tours and archive derives from the fact that many of the art interventions featured in the application do not exist anymore and have left no physical traces. However, the memories of these intangible cultural heritages float in the private and collective narratives of the art scene, playing an important role in shaping the artistic memory of the city.
The four tours offered by the Tirana Floating Tours application are: REMEMBRANCE, which includes historical and architectural sites, as well as artworks or interventions dedicated to commemoration and against forgetfulness; RESISTANCE, which includes sites honoring resistance, producing resistance, and artworks that practice and promote resistance; COLOURS, which includes the facades of buildings painted between 2002-2009 through the Tirana Biennale “facade project”; and REFLECTIONS, which includes sites and artworks intended to stimulate reflection on important topics related to public space and contemporary art.
Tirana Floating Tours is supported by the Municipality of Tirana and co-founded by the Creative Europe Program of the European Union.
Project Manager and Curator: Adela Demetja
Content Manager: Redina Qose, Eni Derhemi, Vjola Kasëmi
Code: Marin Nikolli
Design: Studio Parallel Tirana
Voice: Anisa Pepkolaj and Alexander Walmsley
Audio Editing: Ronald Qema
Texts: Artists, Tirana Art Lab and other sources
Images: Artists and Tirana Art Lab