I’m meeting a hybrid of past and now
15.02.2020 – 01.03.2020

For his first solo presentation I’m meeting a hybrid of past and now in Germany at FRAGILE Dardan Zhegrova conceived a new body of work, which consists of large-sized puppets based on dolls used in traditional shadow play and a newly recorded sound piece.
The show derives from personal experiences reaching back to the artist’s childhood attending the Dodona Puppet Theatre in his hometown Prishtina. The latter was founded in the late eighties driven by the idea to fill the cultural void in the lives of children and adults. During the dissolution of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the following upheavals in the country, Dodona exceeded its original purpose and transformed into a classroom, office space, meeting point and enclave for the Albanian community and culture. Attending the theatre therefore became a usual habit of the children in Prishtina and inspired Zhegrova already in his childhood years to create improvisational puppet theatres at his house.
Revisiting this inspiration today conjures occupation of the artist in his early years with theatre, role-play and its potential slipping into different characters. On the occasion of the show Zhegrova as well recorded a poem in which he is addressing this younger self, while reflecting upon childhood wishes, hopes and ideas from a today perspective. Already in earlier works the artist would use the potential of auto fictive writing in order to access alternative realities. This use of language is influenced by today’s conditions of contemporary life formed by the dominance of the internet, but as well reflects back on the wish to create independent spaces of agency.
Looking closely at the phantom-like puppets - especially their symmetrical heads - one is reminded of ritualistic objects like totems, which traditionally borrow forms and shapes from animals and occurrences of nature. The masks attached to the oversized bodies can be turned through a mechanism on the back and therefore each character not only has one head but actually two.
This mechanism as well as the general structure and handling of the dolls, Zhegrova learned over the past months together with a professional puppet maker in Prishtina.
I’m meeting a hybrid of past and now therefore manifests the power of autodidactic working methods as well unique strategies in transgressing time and the assumed, static boundaries between the self and the other. It reveals a sensitivity towards shaping narratives through psychological moments and the importance of one’s childhood and imagination as powerful tools in the process of self-constitution.

Curated by Cathrin Mayer

Courtesy of the artist and LambdaLambdaLambda, Prishtina
Photocredit Jonas Wendelin