The Symbolic Efficiency of the Frame, 4th Tirana International Biennial

Anila Rubiku, The Symbolic Efficiency of the Frame, 2009, installation view Tirana. Albania © Copyright 2020

18.09.09 – 22.10.09
The Symbolic Efficiency of the Frame, 4th Tirana International Biennial, Albania.
Curated by Joa Ljundberg & Edi Muka.
Hotel Dajti, Tirana. Albania.

Episode 1 – Opening 18th of September

Franz Ackermann, Silva Agostini, Jane Alexander, Yael Bartana, Kimberly Clark, Gazmend Ejupi, Cao Fei, Yang Fudong, Shilpa Gupta, Jun Nguen Hatsushiba, Thomas Hirschhorn,  Adam Leech, Tala Madani, Ursula Mayer Oskar Mernerud, Erik Olofsen, Adrian Paci, Anila Rubiku, Alexander Vaindorf.

The Tirana International Contemporary Art Biannual (T.I.C.A.B.), with the participation of more than 60 artists and curated by five curators will open its first episode on 18th of September and will be inaugurated as a complete event on 2nd of October 2009. Borrowing the notion of the “Symbolic Efficiency of the Frame” as a departure point, T.I.C.A.B takes on the discussion about the complex and manifold nature of “the real”, its many “appearances” and the various ways we relate to our history and present condition.

Hotel Dajti, the T.I.C.A.B’s main venue, was once-upon-a-time the most grandiose hotel of Albania, built by fascist Italy in the late 1930s and during the communist past only open to foreigners.  Today it lies looted and vandalized in the middle of the city and with its many layers of history it will offer a perfect symbolical frame for such an artistic happening.

T.I.C.A.B will have a structure of three different episodes, opening one week after each other and growing gradually, from 18th of September, 25th of September to be completed on the 2nd of October. The curatorial team of the three episodes are: Joa Ljungberg and Edi Muka, living and working between Tirana and Malm? (co-directors of T.I.C.A.B); STEALTH.unlimited (Ana Dzokic and Marc Neelen), based between Rotterdam and Belgrade; and Corinne Diserens, based in Paris and Berlin.

“Through T.I.C.A.B we aim to generate an engaged social discourse,” say Edi Muka and Joa Ljungberg, co-directors of T.I.C.A.B. “Independently from which angle we look or what methodology we employ to research the symbolic efficiency of the frame – be it scientific, aesthetic, or philosophical – what interest us are the inherent gaps that manifest themselves in this constantly shifting process of perception.”

In an attempt to critically respond to the current urban and architecture development of the city – through ‘wild’ urbanization, fast capital investments and within horizon of a neo-liberal context, this year’s edition aims also at expanding beyond the field of visual arts, into the domain of architecture and processes of urbanization.

T.I.C.A.B is organized by the Tirana Institute for Contemporary Art (T.I.C.A.) and will last until 22nd of October 2009. For a thorough list of participating artists, satellite events and other information, please check the official website:


When talking about the reality and its appearance in his book “The Parallax View”, Slavoj Zizek mentions the example of the theatre-like structure built in the South Korean border, where a large screen-like window opens out onto the North Korean part, and he asks: “Is this not a pure case of the symbolic efficiency of the frame as such? A barren zone is given a fantasmatic status, elevated into a spectacle, solely by being enframed. Nothing substantially changes here – it is merely that, viewed through the frame, reality turns into its own appearance.” He continues further down by saying that: “…it is not enough to display the mechanism behind the frame, the stage effect within the frame acquires an autonomy of its own.”

How are we then to read our overall current condition and recent past? Are we to believe the jolly promise of a forthcoming “consensual world”, depicted by many as the unavoidable future of a post-political world, or should we reluctantly try to “re-frame” the picture put in front of us? How far can cognitive sciences take us in processes such as knowing of the self, identity formation and other ontological problems? What possible “frames” can we use to enable a more multilayered reading of reality?

Hotel DAJTI presents a perfect “symbolic frame”. Inviting the artists to interact with it, we aim at interrupting the linear flow of time to which DAJTI has succumbed. This interaction we hope, will create the necessary gaps through which we’ll be able to step out of a one dimensional reading of history, opening up to critique and analysis of our historical past and seemingly non-ideological present, encouraging imagination and aiming for a deeper understanding of our contemporary condition and possible futures.