The exhibition I never knew how to explain…explores different moments and views of geopolitical regions and their structures, which define national super-identities, yet may not appear to do so Alban Muja’s work continues to question the structures that constitute the public, hinting at different political and social patterns that rely on arbitrary aesthetic moments. How can the visible elements of society indicate its hidden background? How do different social and political objectives, which create various identities, surface in traditional and conservative societies? This is probably one of the crucial mechanisms in Muja’s work, which seeks to reveal the suppressed backgrounds of societies of which are part.
Some of Muja’s projects analyse a particular type of otherness – the wrong side of the mirror, in Lacanian terminology – which is necessary to understand the comprehensive identity of self with all its inner tensions and conflicts. Although Muja’s work poses ‘universal’ questions of engaged art that can be applied to any political system, he juxtaposes them with his own personal and intimate stories about his personal relationships, the places he lives in or visits or the personal issues that he discovers. Therefore, the exhibition moves in two directions. First, as Alban’s horizontal journey through society, which seems like a particular social-political study, where we can follow the artist’s attempts to confront different histories, political systems and their mechanisms (Tourist City2007; Brotherhood, 2013) as well as people who have knowingly or unknowingly become part of his projects (Palestine, 2005; Tibet, 2009; Tony’s, 2010). Yet the precise nature of Muja’s art, which is also more all-encompassing, is the vertical aspect of his journey, which is very directly linked to the artist’s intimate sphere and presented in the personal chronicles of his everyday life: from simply sitting on an aeroplane or in the subway (drawing series Window Seat and NYC), via engaged observation of society around him (Blue Wall Red Door, 2009), to detailed reflections on the position of contemporary art (PCA, 2012; Free your mind, 2004). How can these moments be visualised as a whole, i.e. how can their internal and external structures be revealed as the result of incoherent strategies of organisation? Because aspects of the engaged approach and the intimate story are complementary, Muja’s ‘chronicles’ provide a unique view into the particularities of some geo-political structures.
In the art of Alban Muja, the fine line separating life and art is almost completely blurred, which makes his works both very intimate and allegorical. The works in the exhibition do not attempt to reveal their formal qualities, but focus on presenting intimate moments that the artist has experienced and articulated through the medium of art. Muja’s intimate world, which is naturally a constitute part of his life and, consequently, his art, is presented through different aspects and in connection with different subjects, particularly geo-political themes. Despite the fact that I never knew how to explain…is a specific problem-focused overview of Muja’s art, it also present the crossroads of his horizontal and vertical journey, which speak to every viewer in a different, familiar way.
Curator: Tevž Logar
The exhibition was co-produced with National Gallery of Kosovo in Prishtina, where the exhibition I never knew how to explain… was realized in June, 2013. The collaboration between National Gallery of Kosovo and Škuc Gallery is an attempt to establish long-term collaboration between institutions with similar programmes, while reflecting their common interest in being active internationally. The exhibition in Kosovo Art Gallery and Škuc Gallery will be accompanied by a publication in three languages about the work and art of Alban Muja.
Alma Bejtullahu, Sezgin Boynik, Robert Erzin, Stojan Pelko, Chris Reitz, Nexhmi Rexhepi, Başak Senova, Samuel Žbogar.
The programme of Škuc Gallery is supported by Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia and Cultural Department of the City of Ljubljana.