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Her Excellency Mrs. Adia Sakiqi, Albanian Ambassador to the Kingdom of the Netherlands, has kindly agreed to answer some questions of Anna Pavlova Network on this exciting and important day – the day of the opening of Anna Pavlova Ballet Photo Contest exhibition in Den Haag, at the Art Gallery of the Albanian Embassy.
Please, tell Anna Pavlova Network readers a little bit about the Gallery and what its concept as an artistic space is.
When we organised an exhibition with aerial pictures of Albanian nature in The Hague, we became aware of the usefulness of having a gallery open to public. That event incited the idea of having a gallery of our own. It is a bit like having your (Virginia Wolf) own artistic room.
Since September 2015 we now have a permanent space open to networks, communication and creation, open to art. The concept behind this space is to create the conditions for the singular and the aesthetical to appear. I am a phenomenologist by conviction and with that I mean what the phenomenologist philosophers wanted to bring forth, i.e., one does not exist if one does not appear.
Our everyday work is also conducted in this embassy, as our offices are on the first and second floor. Moreover, the work of the diplomat is very versatile, we deal on daily basis with numerous issues from bilateral, political relations of Albania and the Netherlands, to EU issues, to questions of prohibition of chemical weapons in the world and also issues of international law. However, art is what gives light to our work and I strongly believe that the surroundings stimulate creativity and smooth flow of work. The surroundings influence the quality of our work. At the same time, this space creates another dimension of doing diplomacy. Cultural diplomacy is very a effective means, by employing it, one needs no words to convey messages, the message of peace and beauty that art brings along is conveyed by the unequivocal artistic experience.
What kind of art are you personally fond of?
When I have an artistic experience, no matter what sort of art, I feel challenged. I am fond of politics and in art i look for the political. What do i mean with the political is very wide/open. Political for me means to change, so if art brings change to me the art has served my end.
One of the most challenging enterprises is to change mentalities and to change view points. I am always thirsty for art that first of all challenges me, art which changes my point of view and gives me another dimension of something I always looked at but never recognised. And finally i love art that takes me by surprise.
Being an Ambassador means creating cultural bonds between countries. We all are going through a difficult period, politically and financially.
From your professional point of view, what can be done to ruin negative stereotypes and build more cultural collaborations?
Well, the whole idea behind offering this space to artistic experiences is to ruin negative stereotypes. In this case, Albanian Embassy Art Gallery offers the possibility of transforming diplomacy, from closed-door diplomacy to open windows, open-door diplomacy. It also offers the possibility to break from cultural stereotypes. I think we should embrace art like we normally embrace freedom. Once it is with us, we can never let it go.
Financially, I admit it does get more and more difficult. However, this is where it gets creative, the artistic enterprise. At the same time it gets complicated because normally artists are usually not business managers. This is where networking plays a crucial role as there are innovative ways to fill in gaps.
Does dance exist in your life? If yes, where do you prefer to go for performances in The Netherlands?
As an art lover, dance performances take the biggest part of my cultural life. As a dancer, lately, I should admit I only dance in my living-room… Speaking about dance, let me tell you that when discussing Dutch art with colleague ambassadors, I instantly turn to dance and the innovation that dance productions introduce. Modern dance in the Netherlands is like a cultural heritage. It is like the Dutch niche. I have enjoyed NDT in the Hague and of course I have been mesmerised by each production of Het Nationale Ballet in Amsterdam. But please fill me in with some more artistic information. I would like to learn.
If you had an opportunity to attend a performance of any dancer or any company that ever existed in the world, what would you choose?
I must admit that there are so many talented dancers. The art of dance is so vast, unfortunately I do not know enough. In Belgium I was pleasantly surprised by Rosas and later I enjoyed (and still do) Wim Vandekeybus and Ultima Vez. I am a fan of Angelin Preljocaj in France and not only because he is of Albanian descent. Megan Zimny Kaftira was so majestic with her powerful presence on the podium. I have one regret though, I never saw Altin Kaftira, the engine behind this exhibition in the Hague, perform. I arrived too late in the Netherlands…
Have you already had any photography exhibitions at the Gallery?
This is the first one. It is fabulous and we are all exited.
What are your guidelines when you choose the artists to be exposed?
As I mentioned earlier, the art has to be poignant. It has to be sharp. It has to be different each time. We have had paintings, sculptures, and fashion exhibitions. This is the first photography exhibition since we opened the Albanian Embassy Art Gallery. Art is still exclusive but I do think it should include more, it makes us all better human beings. It is also good to show the Albanian dimension in our art gallery. We look for that as well. Altin Kaftira approached me about the International Dance Photo Competition. What a great proposal.
Your advice for young artists who want to succeed on the international level.
Travel and create. But keep on traveling so that you bring about change and create more.
Put your heart first, be driven, give positive vibes, and then money and fame will follow.
Ambassador of Albania to the Netherlands exclusively for Anna Pavlova Network. Special thanks to Altin Kaftira.
Photography: Embassy of Albania in The Hague, Altin Kaftira (on the poster)