Albania at the Venice Biennale

Greek economist Varoufakis composed the lyrics for a song about migration for Albania's contribution to the Venice Biennale

June 15th, 2016

Albania has been represented in an innovative way at the opening of the Architecture Biennale of Venice. Instead of presenting visual art, Albania will showcase "iso-polyphony," music sung by four folk groups using lyrics written by Albanian and international public figures.  

The organizers asked ten people – including poets, writers, architects and artists - all of whom have experience with migration, to write lyrics about migration, which was the central topic of the Albanian pavilion during the six months of the biennale. Their texts have been translated into Albanian and have been sung by folk music groups from Tirana. One of those involved in writing the lyrics is the well-known anti-austerity economist and former Greek finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis, whose composition was very personal.

The project that Albania is presenting is called "I Have Left You the Mountain", and it seeks to evoke places and losses through song, displaying the themes of displacement and migration, both of which have been prevalent throughout Albanian history. The exhibition highlights the large number of Albanian nationals that have fled the country and follows radical political shifts that include Albania becoming a Stalinist state after the second world war and transitioning to democracy in the 1990s after 46 years of communist rule. "In 2013, 45 per cent of all Albanian nationals lived abroad. Migration has real emotional and psychological consequences”, said the curators.

"In the Architectural Biennale, you walk down the hallways and what you see are buildings and pictures of cities, but we just wanted for once to explore the emotional side of the physical phenomenon of displacement, which is very present in Albania," Battisti said. On the other hand, Battisti clarifies the Albanian project wanted also to make a contribution to the wider subject of migration, which is a major issue at the moment all across Europe. In fact, a group of Albanian iso-polyphonic singers – a style of traditional folk singing – have created a soundscape to accompany the exhibition, with lyrics exploring the themes of separation, loss and migration.


Cultural Diplomacy News
Valentina De Gregorio, CD News