This article explores the prevalence of concerns over artistic originality in
Albania’s postsocialist art world. Based on anthropological fieldwork, it discusses
how Albanian artists discipline each other’s work, particularly by noting its lack
of originality in relationship to well-known Western artists but also their own.
Emphasizing the social and organizational role of such concerns, I analyze them
in light of various factors that have become salient after Albania’s transition from
postsocialism to a market economy, including the loss of a system of authority
following the liberalization of art production from state support and oversight and
the failure to develop a stable one since 1991. The discourse on originality expresses
Albanian artists’ perceived marginal status in the transnational art world
and market and is deployed to transcend this status.