SOUVENIR OF MY HOMELAND
EXHIBITIONS / PROJECTS
TEXTS AND REVIEWS
INSTALLATION VIEW: 182 cm.
Image credit: Kochi Biennale Foundation
CM 182 is a series of photographs whereby the artist portrays himself standing under the entranceways of apartment blocks built during the communist dictatorship after World War Two. He perfectly fits underneath the doorways, his height the exact same as that of the architectural objects, you might get a sence of the homogeneity of these buildings, the sameness with which large groups of people are forced to live under totalitarian rule. However these images also represent the ways that people subvert homogeneity, making these structures into homes that reflect their tastes and desires. Locaded across the country – from Shkodra to Burrel to Fier to Korca to Elbasan to Pogradec to Lezha to Tirana – this cities – owned buildings were the result of dire need to house a growing population with minimal resources. They are the solution to the country’s housing problem that utilised “voluntary” labor of the people. These uniform houses provided minimal space and comfort, even as they continued to be built, popping up at every available location in cities across Albania. Made by its citizens, these buildings are giant artefacts of Albanian’s history.
They represent a nexus point between political and social life. Althought point between political and social life. Althought this is a project about the history of Albania, it’s also about the contemporary predicament of people living in the shadows of that history, and an example of the ongoing oppression of people throught architecture. These are real, lived conditions for Albanians today. Dani questions the sense of an ‘ideal’ architecture that mimics the human body, questioning modernism’s utopias. The abstract forms of modernism were intended as functional spaces, and, formally and quantitatively, they erased distinctions between individuals though their positioning of an ideal. Yet the ideal is a pure fiction.
We usually think of buildings and structures that surround us as incongruous with the ways our bodies work, but they are here (or at last they should be) to support and protect us, so it follows that they should mimic our embodies dimensions. What is the use of a doorway if it is too small, or too tall? Should windows be at the height of our eyes? And who is the ideal “we” the building fits and is built for?
Dani is interested in telling stories and creating narratives from his daily encounters, and attempts to create experientially-derived insights into these subjects, creating a space that slides between reality and fiction. CM 182 asks: how do we use the body to inscribe ourselves into the landscape? Or how does the architectural landscape around us, embody us? How do we think throught our landscapes? The body becomed a kind of archive and host to a collective memory. The bodily, read through architecture and the structures around us that push us into spaces, and force our bodies in particular ways are interactive – we ricochet off them. Our bodies, our physical architecture, becomes a site of realizing who we are and what the world has in store for the possibilities we see in a utopia future conscious of its constrained past.
Sudarshan Shetty, Kochi 2016