Introducing Rakewell, Apollo’s wandering eye on the art world. Look out for regular posts taking a rakish perspective on art and museum stories.
A high-level diplomatic dispute has just broken out over a public art installation in Albania, in the centre of the capital Tirana, in Skanderbeg Square. The work in question consists of several lumps of stone sourced from the historical homelands of the Albanian people – some of which fall outside the country’s present-day frontiers. One rock hails from the Thesprotia region of neighbouring Greece – a provenance that has provoked a less than welcoming reaction from the Greek government.
On Monday, the Greek government issued a strong statement: ‘We condemn the placement, in Tirana’s redeveloped central square, of stones from various regions of the Balkans, including from the Greek region of Filiates. […] ‘It is yet another provocation from the Albanian government, which is openly undermining good neighbourly relations. This is tangible proof of the central support for irredentist tendencies against the countries bordering Albania, given that the names of regions of various Balkan states are literally etched in stone.’
Rakewell wonders whether Albania’s recently reelected prime minister, Edi Rama, might not have struck a more diplomatic path by simply installing one of his ‘office doodles’ in the square.