Triple Feature # 5
Çeta / Georgia Kotretsos / Pleurad Xhafa
Opening 2 December 2016, 7 p.m
3 December 2016 – 28 January 2017
Wed-Sat 4-8 p.m
Double Feature is an exhibition format introduced by Tirana Art Lab with the aim of systematically displaying in our premises, two artistic positions to the Albanian, the regional and international audience. Triple Feature # 5 is a special edition of this format, where we exhibit together the works of Albanian art collective Çeta, Greek artist and researcher Georgia Kotretsos and Albanian artist Pleurad Xhafa.
Triple Feature # 5 presentation, is part of “Heroes We Love” collaboration and multidisciplinary project on the controversial topic of socialist heritage of the 20th century European art. The show will consist of works exhibited for the first time at Tirana Art Lab as well as two artistic interventions in the public space by Çeta and Georgia Kotretsos, commissioned by Tirana Art Lab. Tirana Art Lab wants to engage contemporary artists of younger generation into the project through the art intervention on the selected socialist era monuments. The interventions aim to stimulate public debate, initiate new interpretations and envisage the potentials of those art works of the past.
Triple Feature #5 is dedicated to the intersection between art and activism, art activism and the extended role of the artist as an engaged citizen, rying to make a change not only inside the art system but also outside it, in the real live.
This exhibition aims at visualising and connecting these three divers aesthetical approaches: Çeta art collective bringing together artists and non artists individuals, make consciously use of visual materials as political action, by intervening and acting on major national political and social issues through graffiti and other visual interventions in the public space; Georgia Kotretsos artist, researcher, writer, and activist embodies an example of the “multifunctional” contemporary artist, hopping from one role and engagement to the next, while maintaining clear boundary between them; Pleurad Xhafa’s critically engaged and investigative conceptual practice results from his personal and physical involvement with social conditions and situation, resulting in works aiming at impacting both the social and the artistic realm.
Although the ways they work and apply their views may be different, all the tree artistic positions have in commune an artistic practice located and well balanced between art, social engagement and activism. Nevertheless with this exhibition, we want to stress the relevance of the showcased works not only from the ethical and social impact but if anything their function as an autonomous work of art inside the aesthetical system.
This event is co-funded by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union.
Çeta Art Collective
In the spring of 2016, a group of students, activists, and artists began to discuss the formation of a collective to oppose the hegemonic structures of capitalism and neoliberal politics and economics in contemporary Albania. From these discussions, a group of street artists—individually anonymous but known collectively as Çeta—emerged. The group is made up of members of various ages and backgrounds: designers, political scientists, architects, artists, and physicists. Different members carry out the design and execution of individual works at different times, according to the needs of the group and their commitments to other forms of political action in a given period. Çeta’s wheat pastes and stencils evidence the presence of a true dissident artistic movement in the capital of Tirana, a movement that refuses to cooperate with the dominant political parties in the country and, at the same time, rejects the ideological neutrality that frequently characterizes the Albanian contemporary art scene. Çeta’s works draw attention to the political systems that exploit the poor, the working classes, and minority communities, as well as the forms of rhetoric that obscure the plight of these groups in the name of socioeconomic progress and European integration. Çeta’s actions and interventions push back against the growing spectacle of prosperity in Albania, against official narratives proclaiming that the Albanian people are satisfied with their lives, their surroundings, and their government. Recently, the current mayor of Tirana began a campaign aimed at “beautifying” the city by a variety of means, including commissioning works of street art. In reaction to this spectacle, Çeta has sought to turn the walls of Tirana back against the political elites that continue to privatize the city and exploit its citizens. Thus far, the group has realized six different projects that respond to issues ranging from the government crackdown on unlicensed food sellers from Tirana’s rural environs to the imminent destruction of homes and displacement of citizens to “rehabilitate” areas of the city. During this time, Çeta’s internal dynamics have evolved, as has the group’s awareness of the possible relationships between visual material and political action.
Georgia Kotretsos (b. 1978, Thessaloniki, Greece) is a visual artist and researcher based in Athens, Greece. She moved to South Africa in her early teens while the abolition of apartheid was underway. Kotretsos holds an MFA Degree from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago on a Full Merit Scholarship (2004) in the United States and a BFA Degree from the Durban Institute of Technology, in KwaZulu Natal, (2000) in South Africa.
Kotretsos in 2015 was a recipient of the NEON grant for her solo entitled OPEN ARTISTS STUDIO FOUNDATION at C9 MaximiliansForum in Munich, Germany. In 2014 she was nominated for the Future Generation Art Prize and the Follow Fluxus Residency & Grant. In 2014 and 2015 she presented the lecture/performed entitled Socially engaged? Better, socially married! at the FIELD MEETING at the Asian Contemporary Art Week in New York; at the MediaImpact: International Festival of Activist Art in Moscow; at the FIELD MEETING Take 2: An Afterthought, collateral event 56th Venice Biennale, and at Diasporas in Thessaloniki, Greece. Her work has been presented at: Onassis Art Center, NY; the Asian Society, NY; the 4th Thessaloniki Biennale of Contemporary Art; the Tinguely Museum, Basel, La Kunsthalle Mulhouse; the Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art, Thessaloniki, and at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis among other institutions in Greece and abroad. Her own work found to concur with her action to co-found the five-year art project Boots Contemporary Art Space in St. Louis, MO – a contemporary art laboratory (2006-10). In addition she founded and edited BootPrint (2006-10), a biannual journal made by and for artists. Between 2009-13 she was the columnist of the Inside the Artist’s Studio for the PBS Arts Feature, Art21 Magazine. In 2014 her column was published on LABKULTUR.TV in Germany. Currently she is working on Phase #2 of the collaborative project entitled Socially engaged? Better, socially married!, on SIRENSWAVE – an art project taking place online in collaboration with Kutloano Skosana Ricci, on KLIMA – a research, a new body of work and a volume in the making with Carolina Trigo and on the collaborative project entitled IMAGINARY REPUBLIC with Brandon LaBelle, Helene Frichot, Lise Skou and Diego Rotman.
Pleurad Xhafa (b. 1984, Lushnje Albania) is a visual artist and filmmaker who lives and work in Tirana, Albania. After studies in Bologna, he graduated with an MFA at the Academy of Fine Arts, Bologna in 2012. His exhibitions include: Every revolution is a throw of dice, Genoa, Italy (2006); Onufri Prize, Albania (2008); Tirana Biennale, collateral event, Albania (2009); Berlin Biennale, Germany (2010); Lavoro/Work/Vore, Udine, Italy (2013); Ardhja Award, Tirana, Albania (2014); Let us start from the middle, Tirana Art Lab, Tirana, Albania; Shame on you, Celje, Slovenia (2015); Les Rencontres Internationales, Paris/Berlin (2015-2016); Teatri i Gjelberimit, Tirana, Albania. He has collaborated with Department of Eagles and MAPS-Museum of Art in Public Space on projects regarding specific interventions in public spaces in Tirana, Albania. His work as been awarded first prizes at Ardhja Award in 2014 by Tirana Institute of Contemporary Art (T.I.C.A)