Heroes We Love is a collaborative, multidisciplinary project on the (still controversial) topic of socialist heritage of the 20th century European art. It brings together partners from institutional and non-institutional sectors from Central and South-Eastern Europe. The project is aimed at connecting contemporary art practices with research works and involvement with the audiences on the phenomenon of socialist art in its cultural, social-ideological and political context, spanning the period from the inception of the communist/socialist states of Eastern Europe until today. It boldly exposes the geo-political term ‘New Europe’ and encompasses the region from Poland to Albania in a joint transnational project.

The aim of the project is to outline development of socialist art, its various (art) forms and visual manifestations, its relevant art works and artists by presenting different case studies and to connect the heritage with contemporary art trends and visions as well as communicating and connecting the topic with the audiences. We will be asking questions about the background of socialist art in Eastern Europe, its different applications and diversions regarding the geo-political frameworks, we will search for its artistic excellence and controversies, we will try to understand its lure (even fetishisation), we will be asking about its role during the transition period and we will look to identify potentials and a legacy of socialist art for the contemporary condition and its future. While largely unexplored and lacking appropriate interpretation, many of the socialist art works are highly original and finally ready to undergo new interpretations. The project seeks to detect (often forgotten, hated or ridiculed) works of socialist art that with their formal, narrative and aesthetic power reach beyond political justification, seeks for their art history status and hold potential added value for future developments. The project seeks to reconstruct an important segment of the shared history of ‘New Europe’ and to strengthen cross-cultural respect and understanding through trans-national collaboration and mobility.

The title of the project Heroes We Love is deliberately ambiguous, trying to question our prejudices and reflections when talking about socialist art. Heroic and monumental art and its protagonist long lost their relevance for contemporary societies; nevertheless being part of our cultural heritage they deserve a second look, our attention and our involvement.

Tirana Art Lab – Center for Contemporary Art is one of the partners in this collaboration and has organized the International Conference The art of the socialist period between contempt, fetishism and transition and two interventions in the public space and two workshops. For more information about the project please visit the website:  https://heroeswelove.wordpress.com/.