Home » Alban Hajdinaj

Tag: Alban Hajdinaj

Extracurricular activity Eng

Extracurricular Activity

Matteo Attruia, Lorenza Boisi, Stefano Calligaro, Juan Carlos Ceci, Giallo Concialdi, Nebojša Despotović, Emilio Fantin, Luca Francesconi, Paolo Gonzato, Sabina Grasso, Alban Hajdinaj, Bruno Kladar, Kensuke Koike, Federico Maddalozzo, Pietro Mele, Valentina Miorandi, Nicola Ruben Montini, Giovanni Morbin, Ivan Moudov, Nicola Nunziata, Cesare Pietroiusti, Mark Požlep, Ornaghi-Prestinari, Laura Santamaria, Anna Scalfi, Michele Spanghero, Eugenia Vanni, Devis Venturelli, Asllan Zeneli

Padua (I), Superfluo
January 2012

Artist life
Daniele Capra




Extracurricular Activity explores the aspects most cheekily personal, intimate and contradictory of making art thanks to thirty artists who chose, analyzed, and reported a portion of their individual lives, or showed – with a new work – an unknown side of their research.

The show collects the works of different artists who liked the idea of showing what is generally far from the eyes of the spectators. Each artist is asked to bring personally his objects/works or choose with the organizers another way to ship them (small works are welcome).
The jobs that will be set up with the utmost care, rejecting the icy lonely place, and trying instead to weave visual relationships, conceptual, synesthetic with the work of colleagues.

What do we ask the artists living in our days? Images, concepts or emotions? Provocations for the masses, or sharp actions for intellectual elites? Works, relics or evidence?
The philosopher Agamben judged contemporary “the person who perceives the darkness of his time as something that concerns him, as something that never ceases to engage him”. To be an artist means accept that the attempts to turn the lights on can fail and nobody around notices the efforts. So the artist is a person who works for the innate vocation to do something that can withstand time, aware that every time something is showed (in an exhibition, in a discussion with colleagues, etc.) there is an act of exhibitionism. The artist is like a boxer showing off his/her muscles and the scars of fights he/she had: this is what the art world wants.

The main purpose of the exhibition Extracurricular Activity is asking the artists to relax them and take it easy, because there are not expectations: the artists are free not to show what usually art world wants (i.e. piece of art), but those works and objects that describe their private life as an artist (like books, music, picture, etc.).
The concept of the exhibition is asking artists to show something that is far from their professional activity. So we ask an activity that is extracurricular, explaining the audience that be an artist in not only a job by a never ending state of mind (Extracurricular Activity is a series of works by Mike Kelley based on the activities performed in high school). Extracurricular Activity is a show in which we can take part personally, and the visual arts are not the main content, but the container, similar to the happening of Fluxus.

A. Hajdinaj – D. Zeneli. Unexpected Country Eng

Unexpected Country
Alban Hajdinaj, Driant Zeneli

Prague (CZ), Laterna Magika, Tina-B Contemporary Art Festival
October ― November 2010

Unexpected Country. Stereotypes Don’t Fit Albania
Daniele Capra




The first decade of the 21st century ended with one of the most serious financial market crises ever recorded, created by a system doped with fake growth and the lack of suitable instruments for monitoring credit activities. The result was a deep recession, which for many years seemed to signal the death sentence of capitalism, but that has not happened since crisis and development are two constantly alternating polarities.

These events have not failed to receive attention from the world of art, particularly in 2010, when – after months during which the media were generally speaking of financial mishaps – more engagé curators chose to make exhibitions with markedly more ideological viewpoints, in such a way as to ask viewers about the economic system that governs the world and produces huge injustices. The first requirement, born of the urgency of finding real things, was the truth: we need to know real things to believe in, news and facts that are certain above all reasonable doubt. We used to live in a sea of lies, of fiction, that you must bring back reality to its place, as Kathrin Rhomberg explains in an essay accompanying the catalogue of the 6th Edition of the Biennale of Berlin. [1] And this proves to be even more necessary in any country where people don’t live in an advanced economic system and are not able to interact with the rest of the world. As seemingly suggested even by Adam Budak’s curatorial choices for the exhibition Human Condition, hosted at the Kunsthaus in Graz,[2] art must be a critical tool of existence, in a manner like that theorized by György Lukács.[3]

However, this consideration leads us to one of the most common stereotypes in the artistic field. There is nothing more taken for granted than the idea that the only possible art criticism is political-ideological. Far from it. A work can pursue other approaches and investigative functions and can become corrosive or advance constructive propositions working in any other way, even, for example, in a way intimate to the spectator. Perception, emotions, aesthetics are not weapons of mass distraction, but tools that implement cognitive processes, stimulate ideas or change opinion.

Too often, in an ideological way curators see the only possible critical and questioning dimension of a work as lying in its civil or political statement. This is not the only stereotype about artists in what the West calls developing countries. It is absolutely wrong to imagine that the artists in those places (e.g. in Eastern Europe and the Balkans, Turkey, Africa or Latin America) have elaborated only the poetic that focuses on political topics. This way of regarding the rest of the world is the comfortable bias of dominant countries looking other geographical areas. If it is inevitable that artists who come from contexts marked by economic or political issues develop a sensitivity to those themes given the urgency of daily confrontation, it is also true that in the eyes of Western curators and critics political commitment can then become the only area easily seen. So it becomes a cliché that needs no help in becoming accepted and justified, approved by those who see it as the enhancement of pre-formed ideas about the situation in those ‘exotic’ countries usual experienced as a tourists. And in this way, Western viewers tend also to absolve themselves even if they do anything to improve the condition and discomfort of the people in those places, since it is anyway known that there is already someone who is opposing the system, in a critical way.

The thought that art always urges a close reading of politics was the interpretative condition that by the late 1990s also characterised Albania. This Balkan state, long closed off by history and by the Communist dictatorship, then saw a first generation of artists moving into the international limelight and making art that also told of the condition of the country. Think, for example, of Adrian Paci or Sislej Xhafa. Although with different sensitivity, their artistic research has not ignored the condition of their place of origin. Although many have remained interested in giving their works a highly political form, the situation has evolved with the second generation of artists, the under thirty-fives, who have chosen instead to develop themes that are no longer politically engaged, just like any other European or American peer. This is the case of Alban Hajdinaj and Driant Zeneli, artists who have developed an international language, thanks to the continuing relationship with France, the UK and Italy.

The work of both, regardless of the type of media (photo, video, sculpture, drawing), still shows things you do not know or do not want to see in that country. There are qualities of equivalence to those in the so-called developed countries. Prejudices are deleterious and damaging in the field of visual arts: it’s like applying mathematical formulas to solve equations that are actually very different from what we imagined. It is not enough to ‘do worlds’, as Daniel Birnbaum suggested at the Venice Biennale in 2009. You have to be able to truly discover worlds. And to do so with a neutral spirit while banning all forms of easy exoticism. Albania – and also similar geographical areas of other emerging artists – more than ever, is a country to discover.




[1] K. Rhomberg, What Is Waiting out There, DuMont Buchverlag, Koln, p. 32.
[2] Human Condition. Empathy and Emancipation in Precarious Times, Kunsthaus Graz, Juin-Semptember 2010.
[3] See G. Lukács, The Destruction of Reason, 1954.

Alban Hajdinaj. Back Side Collection Eng

Alban Hajdinaj
Back Side Collections

Rome (I), Galleria Traghetto
December 2009 ― January 2010

Just behind the surface
Daniele Capra




Si voir et savoir étaient bien les grandes interrogations éthiques et esthétiques depuis le siècle des Lumières, voir et pouvoir deviennent celles du XXIe siècle.[1]


McDonald’s, Levi’s, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Puma. All these companies have something in common, apart from being multinationals, often criticised by those who desire a more responsible approach to consumption, or more care for social and environmental values: they all base much, if not all, of their communication strategy on the recognition of the brand, the colours, the logo- all the elements which are able to give added value to the products they sell. The mechanism is quite simple- a graphic symbol or writing- or more often the two together- are reproduced millions of times and cleverly distributed through various means, from packaging to glossy magazines, on the streets, through sports sponsorship, on television and so on.[2] This overwhelming use, whilst it gives great commercial strength and power, also causes a progressive wearing and erosion of the iconic value to the brand, which becomes a different thing, a symbol which exclusively manifests the identity of the company. It is a kind of formidable commercial reminder which in reality makes the original image aphasic.

Alban Hajdinaj works in opposition to this dynamic of consumption, in particular in a series of works with ‘acrobatic’ titles (one of these, for example, is L’origine de la gauche et de la droit for the Levi’s logo, where two horses pull a pair of jeans in opposite directions). These works seeks to visually re-appropriate images which have for too long been exclusively in the hands of the skilful manipulators of marketing. The Albanian artist makes a tabula rasa of the communicative superstructure built on the brand, stripping the value of the image bare. It is a conceptual process, the elimination of value and the anaesthesia of meaning, entirely in line with the practices of new dada. Rauschenberg asked De Kooning to make a pencil drawing which he then erased with a rubber, but Hajdinaj has the logos of large multinationals already waiting for him, and, if we look carefully, also those of small shops and local companies. His approach is not necessarily a protest or political in nature, but rather a more ironic manifestation of a subversion of the status quo. The way he does this varies each time, from sinking in the indistinct (where the logo is covered with the same colour as the background so that it appears to be somehow confused with the surface), to a more playful re-adaptation creating an iconic semantic shift. Thus the bearded colonel of Kentucky Fried Chicken enjoys himself as a gondolier on a paper napkin, or posing for a portrait with a red pinny, or the cockerel of Le Coq Sportif preens on a shoebox. In this way, in a world where “the violence of the shock of the image seems to be the only means of expression, the objective work […] emerges as an act of resistance. […] Once again activating the emergency brake without which no culture can last”.[3] Hajdinaj dismantles the meaning- or the attribution of meaning- carried by the brand and regresses the image to a primordial state. This is a significant opposition to the vortex created by consumer society where the images have a clearly defined use and are, obviously, protected by copyright. All of this is characterised as an act of protest, primarily of an aesthetic and phenomenological nature.

Both these anti-drawings, and the series of ready mades made with the torn pages of school books (where children have drawn on the illustrations), and also the complex project which led him to photograph the backs of canvases hanging in the National Gallery in Tirana, bring Alban Hajdinaj’s work within that which Nicola Bourriaud sharply defined as postproduction,[4] where “objects already informed by other objects”[5] because ex nihilo creation is no longer possible, since the ideas of originality and invention have now completely collapsed.
As such, Hajdinaj’s art- both to show itself, but also to exist- needs the physical and ontological support of the complex world of objects, which they ultimately feed upon. The use of objects trouvées thus becomes a kind of cannibalism of reality, however it is moderated by a desire to show that which is normally behind the iron curtain of superficial vision, which is so often the only kind of vision used by the homo videns living today.

Overturning the point of view, whether it be topographical or conceptual, is at the root of the project the artist created at the National Gallery of Tirana. Here the paintings were photographed to create a genuine census of the works present. However the photographs were not of the displayed side of the paintings, the well-known images the viewers normally see, but rather the backs- that is the side which only the walls know. As such Hajdinaj created a personal collection of images- existing but hidden and never shown (and thus inexistent in the age of information)- which were printed at life size. In this way the artist showed how it is possible to get juice even from the wrong side of the orange, and at the same time show all of that which is hidden from our gaze because it lies behind the hedge, if not the hedge itself of Leopardi’s poem.[6] However, the backs of canvases often show signs of other uses (for example sketches or preparatory drawings) and the various labels which record sizes, presences, movements for shows. Having all this information makes a kind of anti-history for the artwork possible, not official, although sometimes not unknown to a historian who has studied that particular painting. Thus, once again, the process put in motion by the artist allows a small but substantial subversion of the everyday we are surrounded by.

The video Uomo Vogue is a work about being an artist and about being publicly recognised as such (with all the stereotypes that implies). This is a kind of self-aware performance by Hajdinaj recorded during a photo shoot where Michel Comte took the artist’s portrait for Vogue magazine. A noisy crew arrives in the artist’s Paris apartment to get him ready- makeup, hair, wardrobe- to make him look his best, or his coolest: that is, making him into the image we recognise as an artist, a status he can be proud of. This is followed by the shoot, in strange and unnatural poses, with the famous photographer holding in his hand the release cable connected to the shutter. Then the lights and the set are taken down, and the whole performance finishes with front door closing. The artist seems drained, tired, as exhausted as a theatre actor after the curtain falls, unsure of his legitmate identity and that taken on with such effort on stage. But here no one is going to applaud, because, for the general public, the portrait on the film, reproduced on glossy pages, will be the most desirable version of the truth.




[1] P. Virilio, L’Art à perte vue, Paris: Éditions Galilée, 2005.
[2] See N. Klein, No Logo, Toronto: Knopf Canada , 2000, “since many of today’s best-known manufacturers no longer produce products and advertise them, but rather buy products and “brand” them, these companies are forever on the prowl for creative new ways to build and strengthen their brand images”.
[3] P. Virilio, L’Art à perte vue, Paris: Éditions Galilée, 2005.
[4] See N. Bourriaud, Postproduction, New York: Lukas & Sternberg, 2002, p. 7, “an ever increasing number of artworks have been created on the basis of preexisting works; more and more artists interpret, reproduce, re-exhibit, or use works made by others or available cultural products. This art of postproduction seems to respond to the proliferating chaos of global culture in the information age, which is characterized by an increase in the supply of works and the art world’s annexation of forms ignored or disdained until now”.
[5] N. Bourriaud, Postproduction, New York: Lukas & Sternberg, 2002, p. 11.
[6] See G. Leopardi, ”L’infinito”, in The Canti, with a selection of his prose, trans. J.G. Nichols, Manchester: Carcanet Press, 1998.

Alban Hajdinaj Gallerie Contemporaneo Eng

Alban Hajdinaj

Venezia Mestre (I), Galleria Contemporaneo
June ― July 2009

Just behind the surface
Daniele Capra




Si voir et savoir étaient bien les grandes interrogations éthiques et esthétiques depuis le siècle des Lumières, voir et pouvoir deviennent celles du XXIe siècle.[1]


McDonald’s, Levi’s, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Puma. All these companies have something in common, apart from being multinationals, often criticised by those who desire a more responsible approach to consumption, or more care for social and environmental values: they all base much, if not all, of their communication strategy on the recognition of the brand, the colours, the logo- all the elements which are able to give added value to the products they sell. The mechanism is quite simple- a graphic symbol or writing- or more often the two together- are reproduced millions of times and cleverly distributed through various means, from packaging to glossy magazines, on the streets, through sports sponsorship, on television and so on.[2] This overwhelming use, whilst it gives great commercial strength and power, also causes a progressive wearing and erosion of the iconic value to the brand, which becomes a different thing, a symbol which exclusively manifests the identity of the company. It is a kind of formidable commercial reminder which in reality makes the original image aphasic.

Alban Hajdinaj works in opposition to this dynamic of consumption, in particular in a series of works with ‘acrobatic’ titles (one of these, for example, is L’origine de la gauche et de la droit for the Levi’s logo, where two horses pull a pair of jeans in opposite directions). These works seeks to visually re-appropriate images which have for too long been exclusively in the hands of the skilful manipulators of marketing. The Albanian artist makes a tabula rasa of the communicative superstructure built on the brand, stripping the value of the image bare. It is a conceptual process, the elimination of value and the anaesthesia of meaning, entirely in line with the practices of new dada. Rauschenberg asked De Kooning to make a pencil drawing which he then erased with a rubber, but Hajdinaj has the logos of large multinationals already waiting for him, and, if we look carefully, also those of small shops and local companies. His approach is not necessarily a protest or political in nature, but rather a more ironic manifestation of a subversion of the status quo. The way he does this varies each time, from sinking in the indistinct (where the logo is covered with the same colour as the background so that it appears to be somehow confused with the surface), to a more playful re-adaptation creating an iconic semantic shift. Thus the bearded colonel of Kentucky Fried Chicken enjoys himself as a gondolier on a paper napkin, or posing for a portrait with a red pinny, or the cockerel of Le Coq Sportif preens on a shoebox. In this way, in a world where “the violence of the shock of the image seems to be the only means of expression, the objective work […] emerges as an act of resistance. […] Once again activating the emergency brake without which no culture can last”.[3] Hajdinaj dismantles the meaning- or the attribution of meaning- carried by the brand and regresses the image to a primordial state. This is a significant opposition to the vortex created by consumer society where the images have a clearly defined use and are, obviously, protected by copyright. All of this is characterised as an act of protest, primarily of an aesthetic and phenomenological nature.

Both these anti-drawings, and the series of ready mades made with the torn pages of school books (where children have drawn on the illustrations), and also the complex project which led him to photograph the backs of canvases hanging in the National Gallery in Tirana, bring Alban Hajdinaj’s work within that which Nicola Bourriaud sharply defined as postproduction,[4] where “objects already informed by other objects”[5] because ex nihilo creation is no longer possible, since the ideas of originality and invention have now completely collapsed.
As such, Hajdinaj’s art- both to show itself, but also to exist- needs the physical and ontological support of the complex world of objects, which they ultimately feed upon. The use of objects trouvées thus becomes a kind of cannibalism of reality, however it is moderated by a desire to show that which is normally behind the iron curtain of superficial vision, which is so often the only kind of vision used by the homo videns living today.

Overturning the point of view, whether it be topographical or conceptual, is at the root of the project the artist created at the National Gallery of Tirana. Here the paintings were photographed to create a genuine census of the works present. However the photographs were not of the displayed side of the paintings, the well-known images the viewers normally see, but rather the backs- that is the side which only the walls know. As such Hajdinaj created a personal collection of images- existing but hidden and never shown (and thus inexistent in the age of information)- which were printed at life size. In this way the artist showed how it is possible to get juice even from the wrong side of the orange, and at the same time show all of that which is hidden from our gaze because it lies behind the hedge, if not the hedge itself of Leopardi’s poem.[6] However, the backs of canvases often show signs of other uses (for example sketches or preparatory drawings) and the various labels which record sizes, presences, movements for shows. Having all this information makes a kind of anti-history for the artwork possible, not official, although sometimes not unknown to a historian who has studied that particular painting. Thus, once again, the process put in motion by the artist allows a small but substantial subversion of the everyday we are surrounded by.

The video Uomo Vogue is a work about being an artist and about being publicly recognised as such (with all the stereotypes that implies). This is a kind of self-aware performance by Hajdinaj recorded during a photo shoot where Michel Comte took the artist’s portrait for Vogue magazine. A noisy crew arrives in the artist’s Paris apartment to get him ready- makeup, hair, wardrobe- to make him look his best, or his coolest: that is, making him into the image we recognise as an artist, a status he can be proud of. This is followed by the shoot, in strange and unnatural poses, with the famous photographer holding in his hand the release cable connected to the shutter. Then the lights and the set are taken down, and the whole performance finishes with front door closing. The artist seems drained, tired, as exhausted as a theatre actor after the curtain falls, unsure of his legitmate identity and that taken on with such effort on stage. But here no one is going to applaud, because, for the general public, the portrait on the film, reproduced on glossy pages, will be the most desirable version of the truth.




[1] P. Virilio, L’Art à perte vue, Paris: Éditions Galilée, 2005.
[2] See N. Klein, No Logo, Toronto: Knopf Canada , 2000, “since many of today’s best-known manufacturers no longer produce products and advertise them, but rather buy products and “brand” them, these companies are forever on the prowl for creative new ways to build and strengthen their brand images”.
[3] P. Virilio, L’Art à perte vue, Paris: Éditions Galilée, 2005.
[4] See N. Bourriaud, Postproduction, New York: Lukas & Sternberg, 2002, p. 7, “an ever increasing number of artworks have been created on the basis of preexisting works; more and more artists interpret, reproduce, re-exhibit, or use works made by others or available cultural products. This art of postproduction seems to respond to the proliferating chaos of global culture in the information age, which is characterized by an increase in the supply of works and the art world’s annexation of forms ignored or disdained until now”.
[5] N. Bourriaud, Postproduction, New York: Lukas & Sternberg, 2002, p. 11.
[6] See G. Leopardi, ”L’infinito”, in The Canti, with a selection of his prose, trans. J.G. Nichols, Manchester: Carcanet Press, 1998.