Monday, June 13, 2016

HOTel, Installation 2.5 x 10 m

HOTel, Installation 2.5 x 10 m 2014/2016 - The first three letters, lit up by electric bulbs, are perceived by the artist as leftovers or remnants of the times past. The process of destroying a former system is often found in countries in transition, as is the artist’s country of origin, where the transition from one system to another, is reflected even on the facades of the urban buildings and industrial complexes that have yet to undergo privatization entering the new (often failed) democratic systems. This is also reflected in the “HOTel” artwork, a synonym for an urban object, narrating the story of a town that was meant to boost the economy during communist Albania.

Friday, May 22, 2015

'Brotherhood' 7 x 50 x 50 cm, paintings

BROTHERHOOD PHALLICISM Alban Muja’s artistic position is in a way very specific since it reflects and comments contemporary society and it’s burdens but mostly in very specific geo – political context. In a way his artworks are permeated with the bitterness of the geopolitical, social and artistic system, which is communicated by individual artistic acts – some ironic, some intimate but always critical. In a same way one of the latest Alban Muja's works Brotherhood is constructed and exposes the very specifics of a phenomena that is present in society of Kosova. It is the omnipresent phenomena of Kosova society but in exaggerating form it is most visible on the country side and in non-urban areas. The work has many layers but in the first place it poses the problem of male tradition and how it is manifested through the social position symbol – a house. A house becomes a symbol for the family and a basic unit of the male pride which is visible outwards. This actually would not be so strange since that kind of phenomena is also inherent to some other geographical territories but in the case of Kosova a house as a basic unit is cloned for the number of every male individual in the family. In this way one house gets multiplied and often you get a chain of completely identical houses which some of them are functionless or even worse – not inhabited (from various reasons). The phenomena shows just the power of the male role in the family and a house becomes a phallic symbol which stresses the importance of the father figure. And on the other hand the work tries to pose the role of the woman figure which is in the society completely excluded. The phenomena is not new and it is present in the society through many generations but now in the time of turbo capitalism the »brotherhoods« are expanding behind every corner and the phenomenon is in a full swing. For Alban Muja this phenomenon was an excellent platform to do a research which is stretching in a longer period of time and it is not jet finished. Even though brotherhoods are something very natural in the society of Kosova, Alban considers them as a »foreign body« what is also visible if you approach to the work in the context of aesthetics – brotherhoods rarely fit in the environment because of their unusual exteriors. Beside the process of visual documenting this phenomenon all over the country Alban Muja also is collecting stories of people which are involved in »brotherhood« processes in direct or indirect way. That is why Alban's latest work Brotherhood becomes also a note of time and space which and direct process of re questioning the society values. Tevz Logar

Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Legendary Dog

'The Legendary Dog' 14.30 min, video : 'The legendary dog' talks about a fragment from the life of Ulay, a famous conceptual artist. In fact the film is about a journey that he and his partner -renowned artist Marina Abramovic conduct in Kosovo in 1977. Their journey is crowned with a performance which takes place inside the ironclad borders between then the-Yugoslavia (Kosovo) and Albania's socialist dictatorship, with movements between the two states being impossible, that is movement of the same people – of the Albanian living in two states. But the visit he and his partner make dose not end with only performance from Ulay - dubbed Quakovich explores Albania- they also get new family member , Alba. The unique dog-breed of Kosovo, the Sharri dog (know as Illyrian shepherd) – which at the time used to be considered national asses- spends 14 years with the famous conceptual art couple, and the includes five years in their famous van, which has now been turned into a work of art. Ulay, Marina Abramovic and Alba live perfectly well together, but at some point in time, life parts them in opposite directions.

Germans are a bit scared of me

'Germans are a bit scared of me'15 min
A man in Mitrovica City ( Kosovo) in his 50s claims he is Hitler, although he doesn’t support Hitler’s legacy. He says nature has bestowed upon him to become the living Hitler. This image has brought him financial benefits as well, as he charges 40 euros for photography. He adds that despite that fact that he has a controversial face, he gains much respect in his hometown Mitrovica. Even KFOR soldiers, NATO’s peacekeeping force, pay him respect by visiting him from across Kosovo to photograph him. The director follows Hitler’s daily life with his friends and family (wife and five daughters) – they all call him Hitler, but sometimes unaware of who the real Hitler was. Even his house has become a type of landmark, as neighbors and taxi drivers use it to orient themselves around the city.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

My name their city

'My name their city'photographs 7 x 80 x 60 cm : The influence nationalist identity politics’ of Albanians of Kosovo have had in the birth of a particular phenomenon of naming children after Albania’s towns; mostly during the 70s and 80s. This is linked to a nationalist idea/dream of unification of all Albanian territories around the border of modern day Albania into a greater ethnic Albania: originally conceived by the League of Prizren in the 19th century, in the second half of the 20th century becoming the main node of a collective fiction and the ideological driving force of a struggle culminating with the independence of Kosovo in the first decade of 21st century. Another factor was the impossibility of Kosovo Albanians to travel to what was felt by them to be the Motherland of their common ethnicity, which only helped foster stronger feelings of nostalgia about the neighboring Albania. For example, siblings that were caught on different sides of the border between the two countries at the time of the ‘closing’ just after WW2, had not been able to unite up until the fall of communist regime in the early 90s. As a legacy of that period, many people are called after Berat, Milot, Saranda, Gjirokastra, Shkodran, Butrint, Vlora, and so on; a self evident custom in Kosovo, but a rather strange one for the locals of these towns in Albania.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


Ajda, video 8.32 min, 2011 : Video ‘Ajda’, tells the story of a girl called Ajda Kruh. Her name literal meaning ‘ Buckwheat Bread’ but in Slovene the common name Ajda is not understood its literal meaning (buckwheat) until it is combined with her last name Kruh (bread). Ajda earnestly and at time playfully tells her poignant life story that led to her decision to change her last name to Kruh.

Saturday, November 19, 2011


Tonys, photo 100 x 70 cm, 2010

Old tradition of renewing family members names after they pass away at Kosovo Albanians has been amended since the end of Balkan wars at the end of nineties, when Kosovo Albanians have been victims of them, too.
This amendment was noticeable right after Kosovo war when some Albanian parents did name their children on behalf of appreciations after people that were and still are alive.
On this picture you can see nine Kosovo Albanians children that are named after Great Britain-Prime Minister at that time Tony Blair, who is considered a war hero in Kosovo for his help dedicated to Kosovo freedom.
All these children taking a picture next to the Prime Minister’s photo Tony Blair are born in 1999, time when their country Kosovo got the freedom.
All these children have something in common. Their first name “Tonyblair”, that was given to them after the first and last name of Prime Minister “Tony Blair”.

(Photo by Kushtim Ternave)


'Untitled' 2 x 100 x 70 cm, 2010 (photo by Atdhe Mulla)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

'Blue Wall Red Door'

“Blue wall red door” film, 33 min, pal 16/9
By Alban MUJA & Yll Citaku

“Blue wall red door” documentary film aims at analyzing the way of how people in Prishtina orient themselves, and what is for them the main object or building which they use for their orientation. The street names are definitely not the way people in that town orient themselves.
Since the last decade, street names were changed many times and today it seems like nobody is oriented by the street names.
This can be more noticed when the authors ask from a taxi company to drive us to a certain street or to take us to a certain place, and in case you give them the exact address with the street name and the number of the building, you have to give more explanation like near what other building is the place, or who is the famous person who lives there (mainly it is related to the important or public faces).
Of course this happens not only when one deals with taxi drivers but also this is the case even in the social gatherings and other public interactions.
It is always the case that one has to mention some kind of building or known public figure in order explain the place of the meeting, but never the name of the street or the number of the building.
The biggest challenge for our society is when someone (and it is usually foreigners) with a map in his or her hands asks, “Where is this street or how can I get to this street”.
The difficulties start in the moment when rarely anyone can direct the other to the place with the exact address, apart from the neighborhood of the city.

Friday, March 20, 2009

'Catch Me'

                  " Catch Me" C - print, 2007 (Photo by Kiriko Shirobyashi)

'Tibet' video

"Tibet" video 5.52 min, 2009

It’s a video about a Kosovar Albanian man, who lives in Switzerland. In fact the story is about his name. Tibet is an unusual name. Apart from having a strange name, the story how of he got his name makes this more interesting, strange and unusual. We, as a society, are used to hear names, which have some kind of attachment to the history of our own country, newborn children named after the war heroes or heroines. However, I am amazed when I hear names that in fact break the usual tradition of naming the newborn children. This story I am about to present has no relation to the history of the country the character is coming from. His name does not have any relation with the conflict or the history of the conflict itself it is an act of solidarity. Tibet was the second child in the family. He was the newborn male child, which for his family was the peak of happiness, and is the meaning of the Tibet as well. Apart from showing their solidarity with the situation in Tibet, which in many ways shared the same aims and ideals as Kosovo (home country of Tibet), liberty and fighting for human rights, his family had another meaning of this name in mind. Tibet – the worlds highest region. Through this video I wanted also to present the importance of interpretation and influence of the news on global society.

'Palestina' video

'PALESTINA' video 6:31min 2005 

Palestina, is an Albanian girl. Her name may sound strange and unusual, but her name is Palestina. The name has been thrilling to her since she understood the real history of it. However, she feels proud of her name and the story of how she got that name. Palestina herself tells this history on video. Her mother, at the time when she was expecting a baby, was stunned by a tragedy taking place in Palestine. Israeli soldiers killed a young Palestinian in front of his girlfriend. Sad because of the cruel killing of her lover, young Palestinian girl,  got into her car, filled it with explosives and clashed along with this car-bomb into an Israeli soldier convoy, killing as many as 20.   The event took place in 1982, weeks before  a Kosovo girl, later named after “Palestine”, was born. Her mother, stunned with the tragic news comming from Palestine, decided immediately that if the baby she was going to give birth is a girl, she would be named Palestine. Her husband and the entire family were severely against this unusual name, but she was set and did not defer the pressure. On the video, Palestina herself tells how she understood the reality of her name’s history: ”Through this video I wanted to present the importance of interpretation and influence of the news upon global society, including news dealing with tragic and horrifying events that spark extreme reactions as even today it is not that easy to distinguish the boundary between heroism and madness”.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

'Free your mind' video

'Free your mind' Video 9:45 min 2004

One of the first projects that I completed is a video entitled Free your mind. The video of Marina Abramović was my starting point and it gave me the idea for my work.  However, I was not very happy with the first form of the idea and, therefore, I continually tried to find a way to differentiate my work from that of Marina. What should an artist do to respect the source of his inspiration, the work of a famous colleague who has made a name for herself, and at the same time, to distance himself from that work and that name, and to become himself?   For a moment, I thought about how I could free myself, not from the influence, but from the torture of trying to find myself in the work of another artist, if I repeated out loud the famous name, until it lost its meaning.   Then, I realised that this is a way to be freed from every name and influence.  I started to spontaneously call the names of the artists that came to my mind and who have influenced me in one way or another.  I felt that I was doing some kind of exorcism.  In a way, I was respecting those names, but at the same time, I was freeing myself from a weight, from all that I had accumulated on my mind in the form of preferences and influences, by taking them off of me and converting them into empty sounds, which one after another, were lost in time and space...

'Speak UP' video


'Speak UP' video 0:43 min

If you speak English, is there a need to speak any other language? The majority will say it would have been good but not necessary,but then what about Albanian, a language spoken by a small nation?

The author of the ’Speak UP’ video, in a way, doesn’t agree with it. He invites one of his colleagues from a far away country and starts teaching her some of most frequent words of communication in Albanian.  The girl on the video didn’t memorize much, and therefore the video didn't last long, less than a minute. Author is questioning the public opinion on, whether we have to learn onlyone language and use it as the only mean of communication.

'Prime Minister' video

'Prime Minister' Video 2:30 min

The idea of this video was supposed to be the regime that we are currently facing, but then it turned out being a double regime. Two boys, in this case my young cousins, must agree with the tradition of circumcision ceremony that satisfies the whole family but not them; the whole ritual confuses them. In this video I have presented two stories; that of a surgeon, who left the  profession to become a prime minister, and that of an Imam who sings for the  boys which are again facing a regime – in this case the religious one. Many years ago I have been also circumcised.  I bought a bicycle with the money that I earned from the ceremony. Maybe this is the only chance when the kids get money for the use of their personal requests. 

'Museum of Contemporary History' C-print

'Museum of Contemporary History' C-print 2004

 I was born in the city in which bridges have a different function; instead of connecting, they divide.

I was born in the city where these bridges divide two communities that are totally different from one another -- serbs in the North and albanians in the South – both with different views.

I was born in the city identified by the “Iber” bridge.

I was born near the bridge which is defacto a Museum, a Museum of Modern History, even though dejure is not so.

I was born near the “Ibri” river

I was born in Mitrovica.

'Meat Shop' performance

 'Meat Shop' performance 2005

National Gallery of Art, Tirana Albania  

The work of Alban Muja, entitled “meat shop”, start from a displacement of the context of a daily action like to go to buy meat.  The action consists in fact in inviting a butcher to move his activity on the sidewalk in front of the National Gallery.  This kind of action show how the artist see the society, “another" look outside the same social system and for this reason deep and careful in catching those small particular that, emphasized, transform one small situation in the manifestation of a global problem. Muja places this accent in almost all his artistic production like in "Museum of Contemporary History" where a simple landscape photography becomes, with the intervention of the artist, a document on present and past history of Kosovo, or like in "Free your mind" where pronouncing all the names of the personages of the art world that he remembers, he constructs a bridge between his memory, his informations and all the things that the artistic “power" promotes and recognizes like art. 

In meat shop, the work thought purposely for 1/60insurgent space, the artist elevates to art work a moment of every day life (buying meat), involving the artistic institution (the National Gallery) and the political power.  The happening will be, in fact, three days before the political elections that, like in the best (or the worse one) tradition, construct a facade useful in order to demonstrate all the good things that were made or are being made, in order to convince people not to interrupt this process.  Alban Muja shows the hidden facade, that no one wants to show, the died meat, ready to being consumed, but first of all, the common action of a common person, that kind of person of which all speaks about but nobody really cares about them, except at the moment of the vote. Instead, the Alban Muja’s art bring in foreground, just this common and "poor" moment giving it a very important place in the cultural life, elevating it to global problem.

 Stefano Romano 

'Tourist city’ - art action in public space

Tourist city’ - art action in public space 2007

Novi Sad, Serbia

With the changes of ascendancies in Balkans the political changes happened quite frequently towards the society which was not of the same nationality as the one of the effective politics. Hence, this action of mine, came during the time of his residency in Novi Sad (Vojvodina), Serbia.The city was then leaded by a radical political force, which has changed even the names of the streets, writing them only in Cyrillic, while adjusting them only with their radical solicitations, respectfully with the alphabet easy understandable just for a part of town community. Preliminarily those street name tables, as anything else, were written into two and some case in three languages, while showing its multi-ethnicity and not its radicalism, as the city leaders were, which in a paradoxical way came to power. I undertook his action in the main city streets, while converting their names into Latin writing, for all the people which don’t understand Cyrillic writing, while making the orientation much easier for the tourists visiting the city. I disposed tables in some of the main streets of the city, and meantime some were damaged just a few hours after the action 

'Window seat' drawing project

window seat”  20 drawings 2007

 “Windows seat” is a sequence of drawings created by Alban Muja during his last year flights to US.

“My first impression about US made 10 thousand meters above and while approaching the Continent, was that I’m looking at an artistic work.”

Seated near the window, Alban Muja was looking at the crossings of strange lines, sometimes straight, while sometimes fractured, although like painted by a hand of a skittish child. A thick line in horizon was restraining the sea from the land and, at the same time, the light from the darkness. It looked like the race among water and earth, aiming to occupy as much space possible. Sometimes the earth thrust into the sea or created a row of islands, while sometimes the sea thrust far inland, were it often converged with the curved lines of rivers which were flowing from the edge of the utterly dark horizon. Alban had nearby a black marker pen and few paper sheets; hence he began making sketches of those compositions. Later, when the plane was flying above urban areas, he noticed in front of him a lot of geometrical shapes of an urban world, which were, all separately, aiming to be adjusted, although altogether they’ve created an abstract composition.

“Occasionally I was seeing forms of expressive abstraction, while occasionally those of a geometrical abstraction”.  In both cases, the flurries of creation were slamming – those of Nature (or God, if you prefer), or those of Men.“Thereupon, during every other journey from the East to the West Coast, or vice versa, I was always looking to get a seat near the window – ‘Windows Seat’. And, I continue to fill my sheets with drawings of America, from above”.

Shkelzen Maliqi