November 26, 2015 - Pirelli HangarBicocca - Petrit Halilaj: Space Shuttle in the Garden
November 26, 2015

Pirelli HangarBicocca

Petrit Halilaj, Untitled (Celebration) (detail), 2013. Courtesy the artist; Chert, Berlin and kamel mennour, Paris.

Petrit Halilaj
Space Shuttle in the Garden
December 3, 2015–March 13, 2016

Opening: December 2, 7pm, Free admission

Pirelli HangarBicocca
Via Chiese, 2
20126 Milan
Hours: Thursday–Sunday 10am–10pm

T +39 02 6611 1573
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Curated by Roberta Tenconi  

Pirelli HangarBicocca presents the first solo exhibition in Italy by Petrit Halilaj (b. 1986, Kostërrc, Kosovo). The show brings together and connects, for the first time, a selection of works from recent years as well as new ones conceived specifically for the occasion.

Throughout his wide-ranging practice, developed between Kosovo, Italy and Berlin, Halilaj has constantly probed notions of memory, community, cultural heritage and home as shared and private spaces, resulting in works that are highly personal, yet address universal themes in idiosyncratic and often wondrous ways.

Space Shuttle in the Garden is a journey into the artist’s universe and mythology that springs from his own story. Through sculptures, drawings, performances, videos and installations, Halilaj explores the tides of history and the changes in the world around him, recounting the “revolutions” of his native country and his generation. The conflict between Kosovo and Serbia (1998–99), displacement, life as a refugee, but above all, the witnessing of the self-making of an independent country are all crucial cornerstones of his life, often resurfacing in his work. Each piece, while drawing on events, objects and stories equally from the past and present, decidedly looks to the future, always harboring the artist’s hopes and desires, hinting at romantic, humorous and also often peculiar visions and dreams that have yet to come true.

Positioned outside Pirelli HangarBicocca, the work They are Lucky to be Bourgeois Hens II (2009) serves as an antechamber to the show: a wooden rocket ship constructed by the artist’s relatives, neighbors and friends, with its interior painted an elegant Klein blue, is inhabited by chickens, preparing to discover a new still to be invented world while moving back and forth between the outside and the inside of the exhibition space.

As an iconic work of the 2010 Berlin Biennial, The places I’m looking for, my dear, are utopian places, they are boring and I don’t know how to make them real (2010–15), the artist’s reconstructed life-size family house, appears here in a completely new form. A stark, spectral image, the work evokes a sense of loss that nevertheless shuns all sentimentality and nostalgia. Like a vast family portrait, it describes an idealized place in constant transformation. Suspended within the exhibition space, the house, now fragmented, reflects the changes its inhabitants have lived through. All the rooms that we consider personal have broken away from the ones with collective, shared functions, to move freely, finding their own place and autonomously interacting with the surroundings.

In It is the first time dear that you have a human shape (2012 and 2015), Halilaj has shaped pieces of metal into vastly enlarged reconstructions of the jewelry that his mother buried, along with her son’s childhood drawings, to keep them safe during the war. Scattered through the exhibition space, these oversize baubles evoke a wholly personal story, yet lead into the broader, collective dimension: set into the jewelry, instead of stones or gems, is pulverized rubble from the artist’s first family home in Kostërrc, destroyed in the conflict.

Si Okarina e Runikut (2014) is a series of sculptures inspired by a Neolithic wind instrument found in the village of Runik, Kosovo. The works are vessel flutes that invite visitor participation and while originally conceived to be played individually, the artist reconstructed them to possibly enable collective engagement. Elegantly poised on brass stands or freely strewn on the floor, they decidedly live in the present and in the public moment when the instruments are played. Si Okarina e Runikut thus becomes a metaphor for the entire show: a journey through private, personal experiences that, shared, become a tool for communication, discovering ourselves and questioning the world around us.

An exhibition catalogue will be published in collaboration with Mousse Publishing in spring 2016.

Space Shuttle in the Garden is part of the exhibition program conceived by Vicente Todolí for Pirelli HangarBicocca. The calendar will continue with Carsten Höller: Doubt (April 6–July 31, 2016).

Pirelli HangarBicocca
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Space Shuttle in the Garden
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