Edi Rama's New York exhibition
The visitors who on Friday evening wished to make it to the opening of Edi Rama's exhibition had to make an effort. The Marian Goodman Gallery on 57th Street, between Fifth and Sixth avenues, was blocked by heavy police forces from all sides.Maja Piscevic
The reason for these measures was not the safety of the prime minister of Albania, but the protests ongoing for a third day in front of the building where the future American President Donald Trump resides.
Meanwhile in the gallery, everything was completely different. Edi Rama, tall and smiling, wearing jeans and a black sweater, was relaxed while greeting his guests and chatting with curious visitors. Instead of paintings, the white walls had prints of abstract drawings made with colorful markers that the artist Edi Rama drew during long meetings and telephone conversations in his role of the prime minister.
As a confirmation of this original story, the drawings clearly show backgrounds made up of the paper on which the work was created. Although in Albanian, it can be clearly understood from the form that these are various transcripts, agendas of conversations, e-mails, documents, and even documents with the state coat of arms.
I approached him to say hello, reminding him that we met a few weeks ago in Belgrade to promote his book "Sacrifice" when he invited me to this exhibition. On that occasion, I heard for the first time, from the charming Samizdat editor, Veran Matic, and later from Rama himself some very interesting details from the unique biography of the author.
The drawings that have been 'exposed' are in vivid, intense colors, just like the buildings in Tirana, which, in the absence of a budget, the mayor Edi Rama also revived in his desire to return a sense of optimism and faith in a better tomorrow to citizens. He spoke about this several times at TED Talks, which is rare, to say the least, for an incumbent prime minister.
The next afternoon I went back to the gallery, this time to hear the presentation of the author Edi Rama, who in addition to being a painter and a prime minister, is also a writer, a former mayor and a former minister of culture, an academy professor, the president of the Socialist Party, and a basketball player. With an Orthodox grandfather, a Catholic grandmother, and a Muslim wife, he does not practice any religion because, he says, he does not believe that existence or non-existence of God can be resolved by the mortals.
As he did earlier in Belgrade, Rama on this occasion also, with the same ease with which he draws, shared in excellent English with the audience many unusual and often very humorous anecdotes from his youth, his life in Paris, and then from his long and varied political career.