14 May                      20 May 2014

The Sun Rises in the West

Leone Contini

Opening on 14 May 2014 with a lecture by Inge Lyse Hansen, archeologist (Rome) at 8.30 pm
How Virgil got Aeneas to Butrint and the archeology of history

installation views

old map of Albania dating to the period when the country was under Italian occupation during WWII

This project, developed during a residency program at Tirana Art Lab - Center for Contemporary Art, was made possible by nctm e l'arte: Artists-in-residence.

"The idea for the project came to me when I found an old map of Albania dating to the period when the country was under Italian occupation: it probably belonged to my grandfather, who was stationed in the Balkans during WWII. The map marked cities and places with lines and dots, evidencing an invasion, an attempt to control and dominate. Today each dot is a void, echoing both a personal and collective amnesia: my family lost all the information about the map, as Italy denies (and ignores) its colonial and imperialist past, especially in the Balkans. The project is an attempt to reactivate those war-paths from a different perspective: I embarked upon a meticulous web of journeys, as far as possible faithful to the original map, my intention being not to decode those dots-voids, which would be the duty of an historian, but to get lost. In my hands, the map, originally a tool of control over people and geographies, turned into a paradoxical opportunity to lay myself open to uncontrolled events. But I never got completely lost, even though I was travelling alone in remote areas of a foreign country, following an outdated map. I was a foreigner, but I never felt like a stranger. An uncanny sense of familiarity never abandoned me, and I was actually trapped in different layers of familiarity: lying above the colonial substrate is the current widespread knowledge, among Albanians, of the Italian language, and their acquaintance with Italian pop culture. The source of this intimacy dates to the late communist era, when the Albanians started to build illegal homemade antennas in order to tune in to the Italian TV signal. Indeed, the antenna was a relational device, created in order to reach the other. But at the same time it generated hallucinated desires that could not possibly be fulfilled: through Italian television the Albanians idealized the simulacra of capitalist society, in what was a yearning for a false promise. In the present era of global communication, these homemade aerials are useless (almost all of them have been sold and melted down to obtain fresh metals), and Italy no longer monopolizes the Albanians' collective desires. But the antennas live on in people's memory, and the fossil of the Italian electromagnetic TV signal still flows in the skies between the two countries – while under the Albanian soil the dormant ruins of modernist failures are waiting for diggers to tear them apart, to be finally fused together again." (Leone Contini)

Leone Contini (*1976, Florence) studied Philosophy and Cultural Anthropology at the University of Siena. His research, mainly focusing on intercultural frictions, conflict and power relations, displacement, migration and diasporas, draws on the tools of contemporary anthropology to short-circuit spheres of common feelings and significance through lecture performances, collective interventions in public spaces, textual and audio-visual narratives, blogging and self-publishing. In the last year he has exhibited at Delfina Foundation, London, Khoj, New Delhi, DOCVA Careof and DOCVA viafarini, Milano, Kunstverein and GOLEB, Amsterdam, Tirana Art Lab and microgallery, Tirana, UNIDEE, Biella.

supported by Vessel, microgallery and Logu I Shkëndijës