OPENINGS SISLEJ XHAFA.
Italy is the destination of choice for many Albanian immigrants. It is the closest Western nation geo graphically and, thanks to Italian TV, the one they know best. Since the collapse of the Communist regime in the early '90s, Albanians have been streaming into the country both legally and otherwise-even, in some cases, entering surreptiously on mafiosi motorboats. In the Italian national imagination, those who sneak into the country are scapegoats for criminal activity, convenient targets for the widespread xenophobia Xenophobia
Chinese rising aimed at ousting foreign interlopers (1900). [Chinese Hist. directed at immigrants from the east.
Sislej Xhafa's work is marked by such experiences of hostility, though his initial difficulties came at the hands of the Serbs rather than the Italians. In his native Kosovo, well before the province became the staging ground for geopolitical ge·o·pol·i·tics
n. (used with a sing. verb)
1. The study of the relationship among politics and geography, demography, and economics, especially with respect to the foreign policy of a nation.
a. conflict, the now thirty year-old artist created street installations and staged performances to protest the "Balkan apartheid" under which he and his fellow Kosovo Albanians This is a list of notable Albanian Kosovars:
The nomadic See nomadic computing. life--a life not always entered into by choice--and its attendant associations and expectations weigh heavily on Xhafa's work. His earliest productions were simple and to the point: a photograph of Xhafa picking the pocket of an Arab boy; a video in which the artist walks around the center of Florence wearing dark glasses and looking suspicious. In 1997, his beat was the gardens of the Venice Biennale Venice Biennale
International art exhibition held in the Castello district of Venice every two years and juried by an international committee. It was founded in 1895 as the International Exhibition of Art of the City of Venice to promote “the most noble activities of . Wearing cleats, shorts, and a backpack and holding a ball in his hand, Xhafa listened to a soccer match on a radio, wandering through the foreign pavilions and asking anyone who seemed interested if they would play soccer with him. One might say the artist, whose torso was painted red, became the living embodiment of the Albanian Pavilion--absent from Venice--represented by the little flag stuck on his backpack.
The theme of clandestine activity recurs in much of Xhafa's work, but it has become increasingly nuanced and allegorical. However much the artist sympathized with the Kosovo Liberation Army The Kosovo Liberation Army or KLA (Albanian: Ushtria Çlirimtare e Kosovës or UÇK) was an ethnic Albanian paramilitary extremist group which sought independence for the province of Kosovo from Yugoslavia and Serbia in the late 1990s. (UCK UCK Ushtria Çlirimtare e Kosovës (Kosovo Liberation Army)
UCK Universal Correlation Key ) during the war, this identification is never the be-all and end-all be all and end all or be-all and end-all
The quintessential or all-important element: "Not that the more spectacular athleticism is the be all and end all of free skating. Spins . . . of his interventions. His presence at the Biennale The name Biennale is Italian and means "every other year", describing an event that happens every 2 years. One of the most important Biennales is an art exhibition that takes place for three months in Venice — the Venice Biennale — but there are numerous others:
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of to join the UCK. But the image includes all the telltale signs of the delinquent gaudy rings and bracelets, white suit conflating the picture of the young hero with the stereotype of the Albanian pimp or cigarette bootlegger doing his best Italian mob shtick shtick also schtick or shtik
1. A characteristic attribute, talent, or trait that is helpful in securing recognition or attention: . In the end the piece is a perfect icon of kitsch, "salvaged" by the irony of a triple-gilded frame. In the video that gives the show its title, Hooligans in Heaven, 2001, three Albanian boys run along the track of a sporting arena in Milan toting a tree trunk. A symbol of life, the trunk-cum-battering ram also alludes to the uncontainable energy of those who are seeking a new identity through life in a foreign land. Even if integration were denied them, the influx of immigrants would not be stopped. In Sweet Invasion, 2000, Xhafa, in a crowning irony, presented a wall gilded gild 1
tr.v. gild·ed or gilt , gild·ing, gilds
1. To cover with or as if with a thin layer of gold.
2. To give an often deceptively attractive or improved appearance to.
3. and studded with jewels (stolen loot!) on which were displayed portraits of known criminals.
Secrecy and crime thus become ciphers for opposition and resistance, for deviant behaviors that are all the more powerful in that they escape our usual ideological schemes. For the recent exhibition "Over the Edges," in Ghent, where artists were invited to work outside museum spaces, Xhafa chose the police station, an environment he is unhappily familiar with both in Kosovo and in Italy, thanks to the authorities' frequent monitoring. He decided the setting should at least be comfortable, bringing in furniture and curtains and transforming it into a cozy little space for all. Other works have drawn on performance to bring out the ambiguously coded nature of deviancy. In Again, Again, 2000, Xhafa developed a piece he had shown earlier in Albania, calling on an entire orchestra (in this case, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) is a British orchestra based in London. It tours widely, and is sometimes referred to as “Britain's national orchestra”. of Flanders) to play passages of classical music while wearing balaclavas, the knit ski masks that designate freedom fighters (or terrorist bands?) everywhere. For the most recent edition of "Manifesta," he created a performance piece addressing the site of the exhibition, Ljubljana, Slovenia, a crossroads for migrants fleeing the impoverished East for the wealthy and civilized West. Dressed as a commodities trader, Xhafa went to the railroad station of the Slovene capital and, gesturing like a broker on the floor of the exchange, shouted the schedules and destinations of departing and arriving trains to the public-underscoring the relationship between the ebb and flow the alternate ebb and flood of the tide; often used figuratively.
See also: Ebb of "human resources The fancy word for "people." The human resources department within an organization, years ago known as the "personnel department," manages the administrative aspects of the employees. " and the oscillations oscillations See Cortical oscillations. of the international financial system. And last year in Biella, Italy, within the framework of a Fondazione Pistoletto exhibition where artists were asked to invite others to collaborate on a common work, Xhafa extended his invitation to seven veterans of the World War II antifascist resistance in the city, who met at a round table entirely covered with peanuts and outfitted with nonfunctioning microphones. The action consisted of the elderly men's attempts to be understood (i.e., shouting) as they responded to the questions of the artist, who was seeking advice on how to organize boycotts against the Italian national electric company.
Until recently Xhafa's work had been seen only in European venues, generally along the biennial and group-show circuit, but a current show at the Swiss Institute in New York has provided the artist with his first significant exposure in the United States. Here, a casino filled with slot machines has been set up in a locale whose entrance from the Swiss Institute is hidden. While the Empire State has recently discussed allowing casinos in the Catskills, they're still prohibited by law. The installation is dark and dirty, illuminated only by the colored lights of the one-armed bandits. Is it incongruous to associate the clean and orderly country of Switzerland with the illicit image of an abandoned and deteriorating site, or for that matter with the very idea of a game of chance? Yes, but only if we ignore the underlying theme of the installation: dirty money recycled in the grand and famous Swiss-banks--and in all the great centers where wealth has been accumulated throughout the opulent West.