In his work, Petrit Halilaj (b. 1986, Kostërrc, Skenderaj-Kosovo) often departs from his own biography and makes use of exhibition processes to alter the course of private and collective histories.
Petrit Halilaj, Si Okarina e Runikut, 2014 (detail). Installation view: “Yes but the sea is attached to the Earth and it never floats around in space. The stars would turn off and what about my planet?,” kamel mennour, Paris. © Petrit Halilaj. Courtesy the artist; kamel mennour, Paris/London; and ChertLüdde, Berlin. Photo: Fabrice Seixas and archives kamel mennour”
South Galleries, Ground Floor Get Directions
Encompassing sculpture, drawing, text, and video, many of Halilaj’s works incorporate materials from his native Kosovo and manifest as ambitious spatial installations through which the artist translates personal relationships into sculptural forms. His contribution to the 6th Berlin Biennial (2010) featured a life-size supporting structure for his family’s new home; the work comprised both the construction of this home in Pristina as well as its ghost shell on view in Berlin. In another project from 2013, Halilaj uncovered and recreated the deteriorated collection of the natural history museum in Kosovo, which had been discarded after the end of the Kosovo War in the 1990s.
For his New Museum exhibition, Halilaj will present an ambitious new project that begins in Runik, the city in which he was born and the site of one of the earliest Neolithic settlements in the region, where some of Kosovo’s most significant artifacts have been found—among them a small musical instrument known as the Runik Ocarina. The Ocarina, part of a collection of objects held by the Serbian government since the war, represents a heritage inaccessible to citizens of Kosovo. Through his work, Halilaj will trace residents’ recollections of remaining archaeological objects as personal origin stories and, by recreating their annexed collection, will give shape to a material heritage that currently exists only in their imagination. Halilaj was recently awarded a special mention by the Jury at the 57th Venice Biennale.
The exhibition is curated by Helga Christoffersen, Assistant Curator.