When they take everything from you, that’s when space is left to imagination, and imagination flies, but like migratory birds, always knows the way home.
From September 27, 2017 through January 7, 2018, the exhibition, PETRIT HALILAJ: RU, can be seen at The New Museum, which is the only New York City museum exclusively devoted to contemporary art. It is the first New York exhibition by the Kosovo-born artist Petrit Halilaj (Kostërrc, Skenderaj, 1986).
This is an installation that occupies two large spaces on the ground floor of the museum. In the first room, large floor cushions allow the audience to sit comfortably as they watch videos of Petrit’s interviews with several individuals from Runik, who talk about what they found in their own archeological digs in the area. The cushions are designed by the artist and are modeled according to descriptions of the artifacts found by the people he met in Runik, which were later transported mostly to Belgrade, but also Pristina. Those descriptions are made from memory, and often are fanciful.
In the second room, an imaginary rural landscape of trees which includes a lake and a large nest, is occupied by 505 copies of the above artifacts, which have assumed the shape of birds, a common theme in Petrit’s art. The number of 505 is not arbitrary; it includes all the shapes of the artifacts that the artist succeeded in gathering from books, catalogues, and conversations.
But for a better presentation of the exhibition watch the interview that Petrit kindly gave to Oral History Initiative and Prishtina Insight.