What potential lies in Albanian Bunkers to create new cultural spaces?
In the 1970s and 1980s the Albanian State under Enver Hoxha built approximately 700.000 Bunkers – one per four inhabitants. Albania was then internationally totally isolated and had a self-image of being the only true marxist-leninist State. It had quit relations with Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union and feared the invasion of the eastern European neighbors after having exited the Warsaw Pact. The bunkers were supposed to make Albania a tough enemy in case of military confrontation and involve the invader into a long and grueling guerrilla war.
Albanias leaders constant fear of war remained causeless – the bunkers remained militarily unused and were integrated into the civil parts of Albanian everyday life during the past decades. Many bunkers were destroyed due to interest in the large amount of steel. Others were creatively included into everyday life: they became storage rooms, bars and restaurants, cafés and shops, memorials and places for musical and cultural events.
We want to ask, what potential lies in Albanian Bunkers – those relics of Cold War and of the fear of permanent existential danger to create new cultural spaces. Our goal is to work with Albanian artists to give unused bunkers a new vision and function. The concept for the bunkers being redesigned will be developed in intense dialogue between Albanian artists and us. This way we want to ensure, that the specific language of contemporary Albanian artists will be heard, as well as the everyday needs and interests of those are put into respect, whose near living environment we are changing.
Our project space is located on top of one of the hills surrounding Tirana. An abandoned military base, unused for 20 years, offers a spectacular view over the Albanian mountains near Tirana and provides a great spatial setting for creative work. Three entrances to the bunkers and their inside offers surface for artistic activities – be it graffiti, sculptural or visual art. The area in front of the bunkers is situated as a plateau with fruit trees and an old fence, it will be arranged as a garden, with wooden benches, flowers and a path through it. For that we will clean the area from all the garbage laying around, renew the stairs going to the plateau and clear the inside of the bunkers. Our goal is that the redesigning of the bunkers and the surrounding area create a sustainable aesthetic and functional good.
The presentation of the work will be part of a public event on the 24th of june where we want to invite Albanian musicians and show the area to the Tirana locals.
We are Peri Bausch, Friederike Humpert, Ivo Krug, Babeta Ymeri and Niklas Krekeler. We are students of eastern european studies at Freie Universität Berlin. The project is carried out in close cooperation with the alternative artspace in Tirana – Tirana Ekspres. Other project partners are Ostblick e.V. and Deutsch-Albanische Freundschaftsgesellschaft.