REITER is pleased to announce the first solo exhibition by Kosovar artist Alban Muja with the gallery. The exhibition titled 'Sooner or later you will catch the sight' includes three projects; 'Memories from Unlearned Lessons' (2018–2019), 'Why Kamza' (2021) and the on-going project 'Above Everyone' (2020–…). The works presented in the exhibition have diverse themes, but together speak for common parts of Muja’s practice in investigating lasting effects of war and socio-political and economic transitions in his native Kosovo and the Balkans.
Since Albanians were forbidden to use educational facilities after the Serbian regime abolished Kosovo's autonomy in 1989, they established and maintained a parallel education system in their basements and private homes throughout the 1990s. 'Memories from Unlearned Lessons' (2018–19), a series of abstract drawings with vaguely familiar organ-like shapes, sees Muja filling in epistemic gaps as a result of not being able to learn biology in favour of main subjects like language and maths, and reclaiming the missing spots of knowledge in this almost meditative act of drawing.
Muja’s two-channel video installation 'Why Kamza' (2021) provides an immersive portrait of the municipality of Kamza in Albania, which emerged after the fall of dictatorship in the country, when many families returned to the capital Tirana and its suburbs in search of a better life. In response to migration from rural areas, these communities became increasingly self-sufficient, being built illegally and without proper planning. A proliferation of furniture shops and workshops arose as businesses were set up one after the other, more than often by copying the neighbour. In Muja's visual essay, Kamza, a living relic of Albania's post-war economic activity, serves as both a metaphor and a visual riddle to reveal the artifice of the visible, and to question social and political patterns which these urban structures concretize.
'Above Everyone', an on-going project started in 2020, dives further into the artist’s fascination with urban stagnation and emergent forms, and showcases the reality of post-war architecture in Kosovo. On view are five watercolour paintings illustrating how private residences were constructed on top of already existing buildings, often without permits from local authorities and in violation of housing codes. This was a kind of DIY solution for many of those citizens who had lost their homes during the war. In most cases, these additions expressed personal tastes and were unrelated to the existing architecture. Similarly, in the recent commissioned work for Manifesta 14 in Prishtina, Muja stirs up a debate about the future of public buildings, by installing an "illegal" house ('Above Everyone', 2022) on the flat roof of Pristhina’s former Gërmia department store. Like many historical buildings in the city, Gërmia was scheduled for demolition, but was saved by public opposition. Muja’s continued artistic investigation shows how personal and national identities are formed through the interplay between personal memory and public history.
Alban Muja was born in Mitrovica, Kosovo in 1980. He lives and works between Berlin and Prishtina. Muja has had numerous international exhibitions, including (selection); Manifesta Biennale 14, Prishtina (2022); ISCP, New York (2022), The National Gallery of Kosovo, Prishtina (2021); Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art Koroška, Slovenj Gradec, Slovenia (2021); Ludwig Museum, Budapest (2020); 3rd Industrial Art Biennial, Istria, Croatia (2020); MOMus Experimental Center for the Arts, Thessaloniki (2020); 59th Annale, Porec, Croatia (2019); Museum Of Contemporary Art Skopje, North Macedonia(2018); Kumu Art Museum, Tallinn (2018); Guangdong Museum of Art (2018); Museum Of Contemporary Art – Skopje (2018); Zhejiang Art Museum, Hangzhou (2017); Zachęta National Gallery of Art, Warsaw (2017); Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art of Rijeka, Croatia (2016); Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden (2015); National Art Gallery, Tirana, Albania (2014).
Muja represented Pavilion of Republic of Kosovo at the 58 Venice Biennale with the project 'Family Album' (2019).