Submitted by Eneida Berisha

Driant Zeneli to Represent Albanian Pavilion at the 58th International Venice Art Biennial

Albania Architecture News - Apr 09, 2019 - 15:51   12457 views

Driant Zeneli to Represent Albanian Pavilion at the 58th International Venice Art Biennial

On Friday the 29th of March, at ArTurbina, Tirane,  artist Driant Zeneli and curator Alicia Knock unveiled the project representing this year’s Albanian Pavilion at the 58th Venice Art Biennale. The project titled “Maybe the Cosmos is not so Extraordinary” is a sculptural video installation - an expansion upon “Beneath a surface there is just another surface” (2015) started at Metalurgjik - an industrial complex in the city of Elbasan. 

Driant Zeneli to Represent Albanian Pavilion at the 58th International Venice Art Biennial

The title is derived from the Albanian science fiction novel “On the way to Epsilon Eridani (1983), by physicist and writer Arion Hysenbegas, based on a team of five astronauts traveling to their destination. The installation develops from a two-channel film set in the mines of Bulqize, a city situated in the North-East, famed for the extraction of chrome - the main resource for the industrial development of Albania. In the film, a group of teenagers from Bulqize discover a cosmic capsule, following the journey of chrome from extraction, processing, exportation and use. Here, the space travel transforms the dark and dramatic industrial environment into a contradictory space for collapse and take off.

"Through binary storytelling, precise choreography of image and sound, the factory operates not only as an industrial space or geopolitical hub but as a visually performative force. The extraction of chrome is turned into a hypnotic sculptural image and the overall factory therefore translates into a big light and sound "parallel" installation, organically plugged into the walls of Arsenale," said the artists in a statement. 

Driant Zeneli to Represent Albanian Pavilion at the 58th International Venice Art Biennial

Driant Zeneli’s work has a very personal narrative and is research-driven. The dream for utopia and failure, and that of an ideal society and the desire to part from it, are illustrated throughout his artistic career. Through the chrome, the perspective and intimate story of the inhabitants of Bulqiza - expands into a global matter. 

Curator Alicia Knock states about Zeneli’s work: "It shows you don’t need to deny chaos in order to survive it. These teenagers (in the film) feel as if they are unable to move the Earth rather than the cosmos.” Zeneli’s project responds to the 58th Venice Art Biennial by challenging what we know and perceive, the past and the future.

Driant Zeneli to Represent Albanian Pavilion at the 58th International Venice Art Biennial

"How do we push the boundaries of our limitations without becoming superheroes? Can the realm of the possible be balanced with the one of the imaginary? At the core of Zeneli’s research is the redefinition of the idea of failure, utopia and dream as the elements that open possible alternatives. Starting from the story of his father in his film ‘When I grow up I want to be an Artist’ (2007) Zeneli combines a personal and a collective story, politics, historical time, while adding elements such as: irony, myth, the fake, utopia, dreams, betrayal, transformation," added the artists. 

"These elements are present in his more recent works, filmic or performative, as well as in his constant engagement with several educational institutions where he presents the history of ‘failed artists’, with the aim of including this research in the curriculum of art schools. Film is used by Zeneli to sculpt place and time. To play with architecture, history and the several stories that can be attached to them, is for his filmic works a constant necessity. Performance is used by Zeneli as a participative intervention, where the artist activates a meaning that is worked bottom-up with other spectators that become participants."

Driant Zeneli to Represent Albanian Pavilion at the 58th International Venice Art Biennial

Driant Zeneli (1983, Shkoder, Albania), lives between Milan and Tirana. In 2011 he was one of the artists who represented Albania at the 54th International Art Exhibition – Venice Biennale. In 2008 he won the Onufri International Contemporary Art Prize, Tirana, in 2009 the Young European Artist Award Trieste Contemporanea and in 2017 MOROSO Prize, Italy. He was the artistic director of Mediterranea 18, the Young Artists Biennale from Europe and Mediterranean, taking place for the first time in 2017 between Tirana and Durres. He is co-founder of Harabel Contemporary Art Platform, Tirana. In 2019 he will represent Albanian Pavilion at the 58th International Art Exhibition – Venice Biennale. He has exhibited at: GAMEC, Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Bergamo, (2019); Passerelle, Centre d’Art Contemporain, Brest, (2018); Mostyn Gallery, Wales, UK (2017); MuCEM, Marseille, (2016); Academie de France à Roma, (2016); Centre Pompidou, Paris (2016);  IV Bienal del Fin del Mundo, Chile (2015); GAM, Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art Turin (2013); White House Biennial, Athens (2013); KCCC, Klaipeda, Lithuania (2013); ZKM, Karlsruhe (2012); MUSAC, Castilla León. Spain,(2012); Prague Biennale 5, Prague (2011);  Trongate 103, Glasgow (2011); National Gallery of Kosove, Prishtine (2010); Museo d’Arte Contemporanea Villa Croce, Genoa (2009); National Gallery of Tirana, (2008).

Driant Zeneli to Represent Albanian Pavilion at the 58th International Venice Art Biennial

Alicia Knock is a curator at Centre Pompidou in the Contemporary art and Prospective department created and run by Christine Macel, and works at expanding the museum towards Africa and Central Europe, through both acquisitions and exhibitions. She explores new exhibition and working formats, questioning the museum itself through multidisciplinary projects (Harmony Korine, 2017). In charge of recent Duchamp Prize exhibitions (Kader Attia, Yto Barrada, Ulla von Brandenburg and Barthélémy Toguo, 2016; “The most foreign country”, women artists from the Duchamp Prize, Fondation Fernet Branca, 2017; Maja Bajevic, Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige, Charlotte Moth, Vittorio Santoro, 2017), she is also involved in the new project space of Pompidou, Galerie 0, aiming at becoming a laboratory for new practices (Museum On / Off, 2016).

Driant Zeneli

"Maybe the cosmos is not so extraordinary"

Curated by Alicia Knock

with the support of the Ministry of Culture

Albanian Pavilion at the 58th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia

May 11–November 24, 2019 

Opening: May 10, 2:30pm, Arsenale, Artiglierie, 30122 Venice,

Catalogue, Alicia Knock (ed.), Driant Zeneli. Maybe the cosmos is not so extraordinary, Mousse publishing, 2019, in English and Albanian. With more than twenty-five contributions by artists, scientists, writers and curators.

 The 58th Venice Art Biennial. Image © Venice Biennial

The 58th Venice Art Biennial themed “May you live in interesting times” by Ralph Rugoff relates to the ancient chinese curse, but is formulated in the idea that the meaning of artworks is embedded into conversations, the need to confront everyday realities from expanded viewpoints and with new energies. 

All Images except last one © Artist and prometeogallery di Ida Pisani, Milan_Lucca

> via Driant Zeneli, Albanian Pavilion 2019 and Venice Biennial