Message from the Director
Dear colleagues and friends:
Today, I am thrilled to announce a new partnership with Scandinavia House, following our collaboration last month in hosting a book talk with the internationally acclaimed writer Pajtim Statovci. Thank you to everyone who attended. We are now working on joint programming that will involve exhibitions, performances, including a premiere screening from the Albanian-Norwegian filmmaker Izer Aliu. More information will be published in due time, so stay tuned.
Even more, I am proud to introduce you to our new emerging artists, Driton Selmani born in Ferizaj, Kosovo and David Straange born in Charlotte, North Carolina, USA. Over the next years, we’ll offer them opportunities and resources, amplify their impact, and highlight them in every way we can. So please join me in welcoming Driton and David to our community.
Selmani’s artwork “You can’t hold Two Watermelons in one Hand” shown above, relate to an old Albanian saying that he brought to life, a proverb, referring to the inability to gain two things at the same time, or being here and there simultaneously. The photo was shot between the Albania – Kosovo border, on a bridge that separates the two — in a no man’s land. The artist is portrayed in the attempt to hold the fruits and unstably maintain his delicate balance.
A poignant image of the people of Kosovo. In between times, between regimes, between political transition and identity transition, between the past and the promised future.
With this work the young artist brings to light strikingly the identity struggle that his generation had to deal with, encouraged by the international community to work on branding Kosovars or Kosovans as a new national identity, a political and conceptual strategy to mitigate possible tensions. But as Selamni says “you can only hold the two watermelons in one hand for so long. Because it’s not natural.”
From our past Albanian Institute supported artists, I am pleased that Alban Muja has been selected to represent the Republic of Kosovo at this year’s Venice Biennale set to open in two weeks, while Driant Zeneli will represent Albania. Muja was part of artist talk lecture series presented by Albanian Institute in 2015.
For nearly a decade, the Albanian Institute has been dedicated to supporting the arts, creating opportunities and making a difference in New York and around the world. I am grateful to each one of you for being part of our community and believing in our mission and making our work possible. My sincere gratitude to everyone who has supported to make this institution possible, and who will continue to do so in the years to come.