Material-human resistance in times of Covid-19. The story of the erasure of National Theater in Tirana, Albania

Activity: Talk or presentationTalk or presentation at a conference


This is a story of the formation of a collective body in the form
of material and human assemblage in a contact zone loaded
with tension. It mushroomed in the very heart of Tirana, as a
resistance for the protection of the historical building of the
National Theater. The state institutions abandoned their role in
safeguarding the public interest and partnered up with private
parties to serve to the eagerness to grab and capitalize public
land. This triggered a citizens’ movement to protect the
historical theater building recognized by European partners in
the field of cultural heritage, endangered by a Public Private
Partnership that proposed its replacement with a new alien
theater and luxurious towers designed by BIG. The human-material
collective body spontaneously started to host, promote,
and generate protocols of mutual care, intra-action,
communication, activating, and empowering unheard voices.
Human bodies that anchored to the building protested
peacefully through art, free speech, exhibitions, turning the
protest into the only legitimate institution, and the building into
a fortress of resistance. Unfortunately, the much-loved building,
that triggered a more than two years long resistance, was
demolished on May 17th, in an unprecedented shocking way,
early in the morning at 4:00 am, the last day before the
lockdown from the Pandemic would end. The act of the erasure
of the theatre is a material expression of the rise of
authoritarianism during Covid-19 times which generated
affective relational resistance before and after it.
Period10 Feb 202113 Feb 2021
Held atCAA_College Art Association, United States
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • material-human
  • resistance
  • COVID-19
  • commoning
  • theater
  • Albania
  • demolition