Performance - installation / June 2013
Logu i Shkëndijës, Rr. Frosina Pllaku, 31 - Tirana (Albania)
The lecture and exhibition, Foreign Body – Antena by Leone Contini, was the first event of the 2013 residency program of Tirana Art Lab. Between April – June 2013 he was conducting an artistic research in different cities of Albania. The project idea flourished when the artist found an old map of Albania under the Italian occupation during WWII. The map belonged to his grandfather who was stationed in the Balkans. The map marked cities and places with lines and dots, evidencing an invasion, an attempt of control and domination. Today each dot is a void, echoing both a personal and collective amnesia: the map is a “foreign body” for both, the artist’s personal family past as well as for contemporary Italy that has removed its imperialist past from the collective awareness.
Foreign Body – Antena, Lecture Performance and microexhibition can be considered as an attempt to retrace those warpaths from a different perspective: Contini turns the map from a tool of control into a platform to sew relations; his intention was in fact not to decode the dots-voids - this would be the duty of a historian -, but to re-fill them through interaction with people. Out of this meticulous net of journeys – being as much as possible loyal to the original map - he created an audio-visual-textual and very subjective archive and shared it in the form of a blog titled Harta e Thesarit - La mappa del tesoro, http://hartaethesarit.wordpress.com/
The contents of this blog often relate to migration experiences of Albanians in Italy, but also with strategies of survival in the current chronic-crisis of the so-called transition process in Albania. A mixture between interviews, short essays stories, self-reflexive thoughts and images, build up a written and visual archive, making visible the artistic research process and at the same time documenting a part of the country’s everyday reality.
Another big subject in Contini’s fieldwork research in Albania relates to homemade aerials built during the communist time, mainly used to reach the Italian TV signal. During his residency, Leone asked people to draw for him their most familiar handmade aerial and collected a wide range of models, this variety answering very different needs: in relation to the materials available and to the geographic specificity of each region - the electro magnetic flow being affected by morphology, weather etc.
Through the aerials, Albanians learned a foreign language and got familiar with Italian Pop culture. At the same time the imagery transmitted through these devices was nothing but the idealized simulacra of the consumer society. Watching Italian TV and the subsequent mass emigration was a yearning towards a false promise. When the first refugees arrived in Bari in 91, the Albanians were for the Italians a blank page, ready to write on. Before 91, the immigration in Italy was not “thematized”, nor exploited for political agendas. But the super-iconic image of the crowded refuge ship overlapped with a void of political power and was therefore turned into the archetype of a new collective fear: the fear to be invaded by foreign bodies. Driven by his interest in self-made aerials, Contini developed the work Foreign Body – Antena: an intervention that will be hosted by microgallery, a hybrid Italian-Albanian art project based in Tirana. The project Foreign Body – Antena, microexhibition is answering and at the same time challenging the microgallery “statute”, by connecting this small and intimate space to the vast realm of the real. But Antena will subvert the aerial device too, by turning this tool, conceived to passively receive signals from some invisible elsewhere up there on the air, into a hearty, field-feeler and relational medium.