Edi Rama is an artist and since 2000 mayor of Tirana, Albania. The economic and social change that happened to his city made him react with a city building program that combines social and artistic interventions. The everyday struggle to keep the balance between individuality and administration, art and politics, fiction and reality leaves traces on paper: When Rama works, he doodles, may it be on telephone, in meetings or in between.
Anri Sala edited the collected works of Edi Rama as monography, assembling the colourful doodling with correspondence, political speeches, and notes. The book covers the period of 2001 to 2009. Each day is represented by a double page which shows the stressful relationship of an artist mayor: on the one hand the doodles on-top of everyday politics, appointments and telephone lists, on the other hand international relationships, news and memories from politics, art and science represented by headlines and text excerpts. Edi Rama’s doodles dance above this abyss, resistant against gravity through abstraction.
Printed in the hot and dusty fields of Thessaloniki. With plenty of arguments about print quality, resulting in an unavoidable compromise.
Foreword to the book by Anri Sala:
One day in 1937, Daffy Duck, the legendary animated cartoon character, steps off a cliff expecting further ground. He hangs in midair, soliloquizing, until he chances to look down. Daffy evades the void as long as he is lost in an abstracted reality. His daydreaming subjugates gravity. As long as he is occupied, the void does not call for his body.
37 years later, shortly after 7:15 am on August 7, Philippe Petit, the now-famous ‘man on wire’ steps off the South Tower of the World Trade Center onto a steel cable connecting the long gap between the Twin Towers at a height of 417 metres. After walking back and forth, he lies on the wire and begins a dialogue with a gull circling above his head. Perhaps they talk of cartoon physics and Daffy Duck.
Daffy’s reverie and Philippe’s focus are diametric ways of defeating the void. While Daffy must simply avoid straying from the realms of his ebullient imagination to escape gravity, Petit insists on his trajectory in order to redefine physics. Both succeed in connecting two disparate points in the present.
It is uncertain if Edi Rama’s doodling is the fruit of close attention or dreaminess. Undoubtedly, the magic laws of animated cartoons do not apply to the daily problems and politics of the city, the void and vertigo that they represent. In spite of their differences, Edi, Philippe and Daffy share one recipe: to defy gravity and overcome the abyss through abstraction.
Edi’s absent-minded doodles sit like Disneyland castles on the dire reality of their pages. The drawings flow like colourful saliva, loosely binding the day-to-day, which must often taste like a mouthful of sand. They follow him like a constant companion on his quest. His lines curve and curl, never remaining straight for too great a distance. They connect the present to the otherwise unintelligible future, the separation of which is even greater than that between the former Twin Towers. Neither simple resolution nor definite span exists, but their absence inspires beautiful drawings.