Like any city Tirana is a mix of reality and illusion, fair and unfair. Like any citizens, the residents live a compromise of self-awareness and self-deception. In July Finnish graffiti artist EGS exhibited maps, where map lines show marginal spaces against the certainty of red and black. Maps have power and certainty, but this is an illusion. The illusion creates belief and in turn this influences our conduct. Umberto Eco in The Book of Legendary Lands sees maps as sense-making tools to anchor the imagined to reality. EGS evokes this when he says: “every wave, star, drip or block I have painted can be traced to this attitude of graffiti anthropologist.” The physical and symbolic Tirana are shaped by social use for:
“Cities, like dreams, are made of desires and fears, even if the thread of their discourse is secret, their rules absurd, their perspectives deceitful and everything conceals something else.” Italo Calvino – Imaginary Cities.
Tirana is best known for the ‘Tirana Facades’ of Edi Rama. This project painted the outside of former socialist living blocks to revitalize the city from decay:
The Tirana facades are today somewhat dull and peeling after a decade of harsh weather, but as Albania joins the EU, Tirana is alive, negotiating her past and designing symbols to signify her future.