PETRIT HALILAJ | ITSLIQUID

PETRIT HALILAJ

Art | July 24, 2020 |

Petrit Halilaj
Image courtesy of Museo Reina Sofia

Petrit Halilaj.
To a raven and hurricanes that from unknown places bring back smells of humans in love
Palacio de Cristal, Parque del Retiro, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía
July 17, 2020 – February 28, 2021

The work of Petrit Halilaj (Kostërrc, Skenderaj, Republic of Kosovo, 1986) is tightly bound up with his biography, the recent history of his country, and the consequences of the political and cultural tensions in the region. Childhood memories steeped in the drama of war and refugee life recur throughout his art, which embraces themes like home, nation and cultural identity through a variety of media ranging from drawing and sculpture to video, installation and even writing. However, he does not proclaim a rupture between the personal and intimate and the historical and social, but instead perceives a relationship and continuity to be found in his intervention for the Palacio de Cristal. Perhaps that is why for this show, the artist’s first solo exhibition in Spain, he was half-jokingly and half-seriously invited to produce “the piece of his life“.

Petrit Halilaj
Image courtesy of Museo Reina Sofia

Halilaj seems to have taken the proposal almost literally, making artistic material out of his biographical experience. He has turned the Palacio de Cristal into a giant nest that connects the interior with the exterior, linking visitors to their surroundings by opening windows, installing structures, and setting up feeding areas to attract the birds and other creatures inhabiting or transiting through Parque del Retiro. Birds, a recurrent feature of his work, symbolize the transgression of the limits established by modern thought between subject and object, culture and nature. In particular, the artist has drawn inspiration from the extraordinary courtship ritual of bowerbirds, which make elaborate structures (‘bowers’) and decorate them with colorful objects to attract a mate. The idea of this ritual is closely linked to his biography.

Petrit Halilaj
Image courtesy of Museo Reina Sofia

The large flowers which decorate the nest, made of a delicate steel framework and painted canvas, are the result of collaborative work with his life partner, the artist Álvaro Urbano. Their choice forms part of the personal history that binds them together, and its purpose is to celebrate their union: forsythia, palm seeds, cherry blossom, poppy, carnation, and lily. However, these references are far from remaining mere anecdotes. In being made public, their intimacy acquires an evident social and political dimension. This call for visibility and acceptance becomes even more relevant when we recall the Palacio de Cristal’s colonial past as a place of exhibition and exclusion, together with its function as a public space. In this respect, it is fundamental for the artist to formulate tensions and cross the limits between public displays that are considered acceptable or worthy of attention and those which on the other hand are censured or scorned.

Petrit Halilaj
Image courtesy of Museo Reina Sofia

The white raven holding a piece of wood in History of a Hug (2020) speaks of these conventions. It specifically alludes to a particular moment in Halilaj’s family history, being a tool used by his grandfather when working in the country, and the object he was holding when he learned his wife had given birth to their first child. Unable to express his immense joy in public, since this might have been interpreted as a sign of weakness in a patriarchal society, he hugged the post so hard that he thought he might break it.

Petrit Halilaj
Image courtesy of Museo Reina Sofia

Like nests in nature, the space devised by Halilaj cannot be regarded as autonomous or separate from its environment, its visitors, and their activities. On the contrary, it is a continuation of them. This relationship, which can be understood as a form of interdependence, resounds throughout the installation – for instance, in the two bird’s feet that make up Here To Remind You (2020) -. Moreover, there is something strange and disproportionate about the size of this nest, the gigantic scale of its flowers, and the comfort and centrality it offers the birds. The artist thus suspends the logocentric perspective that makes us believe we are the center and measure of all things, encouraging us to recognize ourselves as just one more element among many. The nest is thus revealed as the setting for a ritual that lies in wait for encounters, alliances and unions among its different visitors, altering and changing with the space.

Petrit Halilaj
Image courtesy of Museo Reina Sofia

To a raven and the hurricanes that from unkown places bring back smells of humans in love is the first exhibition inaugurated by the Museo Reina Sofía since its closure in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which interrupted the montage of the show. In these circumstances, Halilaj’s proposal could not be more timely. The title’s dedication to the raven and the hurricanes speaks to us of the struggle that precedes acceptance. The current crisis has laid bare the weakness of the economic system our world rests upon and the unsustainability of unlimited growth with our backs turned to nature. It has confronted us with our vulnerability and interdependence, and has placed care and affection at the core of a common subsistence that cannot be prolonged without taking the rest of the planet’s inhabitants into account. With this nest, Halilaj offers a refuge, and so raises hope for a possible future different to the one apparently awaiting us.

more. www.museoreinasofia.es

Petrit Halilaj
Image courtesy of Museo Reina Sofia
Petrit Halilaj
Image courtesy of Museo Reina Sofia
Petrit Halilaj
Image courtesy of Museo Reina Sofia
Petrit Halilaj
Image courtesy of Museo Reina Sofia

Are you an artist, architect, designer? Would you like to be featured on ITSLIQUID platform? Send an e-mail to info@itsliquid.com or fill the form below

RELATED POSTS


El Anatsui: Triumphant scale

Art | September 17, 2020

El Anatsui is one of the most important contemporary artists of his generation. The Kunstmuseum Bern is mounting the largest exhibition of the work of the Ghanaian artist so far. His sculptures upend traditional categories and reflect the (post-)colonial relationship between Europe, Africa and the New World. The exhibition focuses on the monumentality of El Anatsui's work and encompasses every media in the artist’s prodigious fifty-year career. "We are proud and happy to be able show this truly splendid exhibition. El Anatsui's art leaves no one untouched, and we look forward to the engagement and the encounters that will take place at the Kunstmuseum Bern". [Nina Zimmer, Director, Kunstmuseum Bern – Zentrum Paul Klee] Read more


INTERVIEW: SIMONA MUZZI

Interviews | September 11, 2020

She has always lived in Bologna but considers herself a citizen of the world. Born in 1962, in 1990 she graduated in Architecture in Florence. He works as an architect. Photography and video artist, in January 2020 she exhibits for the first time unpublished works at Paratissima Bologna Art Fair NEEDS entitled "Incidenti", with which he made his debut for the first time in public. He has participated in several international Call for Entries and Contests with his own conceptual photography works. Before starting to take professional photography, she always photographed the reality that surrounded her. Read more


INTERVIEW: RAF TARNAWSKI

Interviews | September 9, 2020

Raf Tarnawski was born 1953 in Wrocław, Poland. In 1976 he moved to Lund, Sweden, where he graduated from the School of Graphic Design and spent several years working with photography, graphics, illustration and advertising. In 2006 he returned back to Warsaw, Poland to study sculpture techniques at the at the Academy of Arts in Professor P. Gawron's workshop. Since then, he has been sculpting full-time and has exhibited his work regularly in multiple solo and group exhibitions. Raf creates the lightening rods to diffuse stress and an escape route from daily desolation. His sculptures are vessels that are filled with emotions and desires: the joy of encounter, heat of the setting sun, or yearning for what might be. He wants to bring order and understanding of basic values that comes from aesthetics and beauty. Read more


INTERVIEW: LAURA SANDRONI

Interviews | September 7, 2020

Laura Sandroni was born in Varese in 1985. She approaches art and painting since she was a child, she carries on this passion over the years as a self-taught. His works are used for a strong use of color which she uses as an emotional and communicative vehicle. Over the years his artistic career has been enriched with lived experiences and personal growth that leads to expressing this new maturation and self-knowledge on canvas. His works are the primary channel with which he transmits the changes and emotional states that are part of life, sensations and feelings that feed the soul and body and that often happens in the form of female figures. He prefers acrylic that in many of his creations he uses with the only help of his hands and body, as an extension of his own person and expressive tool. Curious and attentive observer, she transmits what strikes her through painting and writing, showing a strong inclination to experiment and overcome her own internal limits. Read more


Sign up for our Newsletter.

Enter your email to receive our latest updates!