Notes from the Upperground
Bazament Art Space / TIRANA (Albania)
07.03.2019 – 05.04.2019
Notes from the Upperground explores the ways in which forms are created, their ideological foundations, and the sociocultural contexts that shape them. I observe and take notes on the physical, aesthetic manifestations of modernist language and their vernacular interpretations in our urban environment. Previously interpreted through painting, here I have expanded my vocabulary, research, and materiality in three new series: Notes from the Upperground, Railings, and Coffee Tables.
In Notes from the Upperground, headstones from Tirana’s graveyards are seen from their back side. Portrait-like, the photographs focus on the stones’ silhouettes and their formal aesthetic information. The photographs deliberately obscure all of the graves’ personal details, reducing the headstones to their shape alone.
In most societies, graveyards are filled with religious symbolism, but here the forms have been replaced with new peculiar designs, ones that seemingly erase the signs of religious and communist pasts of Albania. Instead, I would argue that they represent the hybrid identity of contemporary Albanian society: the bygone collectivist, communist system has morphed today into our consumerist, individualist reality, constructing new imagery along the way.
Two sculptural series, were born out of the photographic work. I designed them with a set of curvy elaborations borrowed from the headstones’ aesthetics. The works ask that the viewer interpret signs and form when separated from the object’s designated function and context.
Railings considers everyday metal gratings or gates, so ubiquitous in Tirana today that they are commonly installed even in graveyards. They function as barriers, dividers, and markers of private property.
The Coffee Tables was produced with the same material and technology used to fabricate the headstones. The publicness of the gravestones is confronted with that of the private — the domesticity of coffee tables. But these spaces are nonetheless linked: the coffee table is a key site of gathering and mourning; it is where we collectively grieve the dead in historical and contemporary Albanian funeral rituals.