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JAB23 CLOSING – Gerta Xhaferaj: 16′

JAB23 CLOSING - Gerta Xhaferaj: 16'

The Jelsa Art Biennial happily invites you to the closing event, the opening of the pop-up exhibition of the Albanian artist Gerta Xhaferaj entitled 16′, on August 30 at 8 p.m. in the Monade Gallery. The exhibition was realized in collaboration with Culture Hub Croatia.
Exhibition 16′ delves into themes of cultural identity, dynamics of the urban area, transformations of the city, self and memory by presenting them through an ambiental installation including a combination of sound, video and photography with the elements of construction recorded in suburbs of the capital of Albania.
Part of the exhibition is an artwork called Aesthetic Abortion, which is a series of photographs that explores the structural character of urban peripheries in Tirana, Albania’s capital city.
The series deals with the aesthetic legacy of the periphery, recording the visual identity of a zone and at the same time mourning the violence that has fundamentally transformed the character of that site.
Each photograph in the series focuses on a single structure, and the aesthetic multiplicity of these structures reflects their informal genesis. These houses represent a contemporary architectural vernacular that is common in Albania, where post-socialist hopes of economic success and stability led citizens to construct private homes in many urban peripheries, utilizing their own design, without the help of professional architects.
These structures were frequently built without proper planning permission, but they were also completed in an ambiguous legal context, in which informality was the norm and the bureaucracy necessary to obtain these permits made them — practically speaking — difficult or impossible for many citizens to obtain. Subsequent efforts on the part of residents to legalize their homes have sometimes dragged on for more than a decade, leaving families in limbo.
A destiny of one such home is presented in the video entitled 16’ which delves into the aesthetical and political relevance of a collapsing house and the profound philosophical significance imbued within the notion of home. It embarks on a meticulous artistic speculation, approaching the essence of what a domicile truly represents, while contemplating its profound entanglement with memory and the structures of belonging.
It is a story about a house that’s been built for 30 years and demolished in 16 minutes. The placement of this house in the suburbs of Tirana, Albania, bestows upon it an additional stratum of intricacy and complexity. The informal construction that burgeoned in the aftermath of the nation’s dictatorship mirrors the indomitable human urge for shelter and security amid the waves of political and societal transformation. These hastily erected structures embody both resilience and fragility, a subversive political potency but also a weak derivative of power games, serving as an apt reflection of the tumultuous history that pervades the very kernel of the nation.
Gerta Xhaferaj, born in 1993 in Fier, Albania – is an architect and visual artist who lives and works in Basel, Switzerland. She studied architecture in Tirana, where she received her MSc. degree in 2017. She is currently pursuing an MA program in Fine Arts at the FHNW University of Art and Design in Basel. She is a 2022 winner of the VID Grant Financial Prize by the VID Foundation for Photography, Amsterdam.
Organization in co-production with: LAB852, Sustainable Island Association, Kružok Association, Culture Hub Croatia.
Support: Ministry of Culture and Media of the Republic of Croatia, Jelsa Municipality, Jelsa Tourist Board.

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