Driant Zeneli To Exhibit At 58th Venice Biennale

Driant Zeneli will be representing Albania at the 58th Venice Biennale with his piece entitled “Maybe the cosmos is not so extraordinary”.

The Art Biennale, titled “May You Live In Interesting Times”, will take place from 11 May to 24 November 2019. It is a contemporary visual art exhibition, held every two years, and it is the original biennale in the world, having spawned many other similar events in other countries. Dating back to 1895 it is considered as one of the most prestigious events in the art world and brings together some of the world’s most groundbreaking artists.

Previous international contributors include Marina Abramovic, Jasper Johns, Yoko Ono and and Barbara Kruger. Albanian artists that have previously taken part include Helidon Gjergji, Sislej Xhafa, and Lala Meredith-Vula.

Zeneli’s contribution for 2019 focuses on the concept of pushing mental and physical boundaries without becoming superheroes. He questions whether the possible and imaginary can coexist and seeks to redefine the idea of failure, utopia, and dreams. Through filmic narration and performance, Zeneli questions the human obsession with limits and creates alternative responses to human fragility and the world around us. By challenging both the physical and metaphysical relationships between main and space, he explores matter and dreams, gravity and control.

His work “Maybe the cosmos…” is a video installation with a sculptural angle that expands beyond a previous project that he started in 2015 called “Beneath a surface there is just another surface”. The project and its title were inspired by the pioneering science-fiction novel ‘On the Way to Epsilon Eridani” (1983), written by Albanian writer and physicist Arion Hysenbegas.

A press release for the project explains;

“The installation develops from a two-channel film set in the mines of Bulqize, a city in the North-East of the country, where, since 1918, the chrome mineral has been extracted. Chrome represents a key resource for the industrial development of Albania and collides with economic and political conflicts in the Global South. The film stages a group of teenagers from Bulqize discovering a cosmic capsule which follows the journey of chrome, from its extraction and processing within the factory to its exportation and worldwide exploitation. This “geopolitical” space travel therefore turns this shady and dramatic industrial environment into an ambivalent space for collapse and takeoff.

Through binary storytelling, precise choreography of image and sound, the factory operates not only as an industrial space or geopolitical hub but as a visually performative force. The extraction of chrome is turned into a hypnotic sculptural image and the overall factory therefore translates into a big light and sound “parallel” installation, organically plugged into the walls of Arsenale. In this productive and immersive space, Driant Zeneli intends to create a tension between an oppressive underground reality and a utopian space of possibility and liberation.”

Driant Zeneli was born in Shkoder, Albania in 1983 and spends his time between Tirana and Milan. In 2008 he won the Onufri International Art Prize, in 2009 the Young European Artist Award Trieste Contemporanea, and in 2017 MOROSO Prize Italy. He was the artistic director of Mediterranea 18, the Young Artists Biennale from Europe and Mediterranean, taking place for the first time in 2017 between Tirana and Durres. He is co-founder of Harabel Contemporary Art Platform, Tirana. Zeneli has exhibited at several galleries all around Europe.

This article was originally published on The Balkanista.