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Anri Sala’s work is often about obscurity – obscurity of images but also of language and experience – which can render it both vexingly subtle and uncomfortably immediate. In the video Ghostgames (2002), translucent crabs scuttle away from a flashlight beam on a dark beach. The horse in time after time (2003) stands beside a busy motorway as headlights from passing cars draw perilously nearer. In other instances, this obscurity can be simply beautiful, like the strobe light reflecting off a reverberating cymbal in Three Minutes (2004) or the game of football played by the children in Missing Landscape (2001).
When Sala confronts the history and current events of his native Albania, he does so with the same subtle immediacy. The video Intervista (1998), for example, is equal parts documentary, memoir and mystery. It depicts Sala’s search for the lost sound reel from a historical interview with his mother at the 1977 Albanian Youth Congress. Finally, after enlisting lip-readers to supply the missing dialogue, Sala plays it for his mother, who reacts with shock at the words of her younger self, words not so much her own as the Communist Party’s. During the course filming of Intervista, the Albanian economy collapsed, unleashing civil unrest across the country. The film ends with Sala’s mother reflecting on her youthful beliefs, now tempered by experience: ‘I think we’ve passed on to you the ability to doubt. Because you must always question the truth.’
Working in a range of media – including video, photography and installation – and having been raised in Tirana, educated in Paris and now settled in Berlin, Anri Sala represents a truly contemporary international vision. The impact of his work – featured at the world’s top venues and exhibitions, including Manifesta (2000) and the Venice Biennale (1999, 2001 and 2003) – endorses Sala’s conviction that art can transcend cultural references without losing any of its specificity nor, indeed, its power.
In the Survey, Mark Godfrey weaves the artist’s primary themes – sound and language, absence and presence, repetition – into a celebration of the work’s ‘inbetweenness’. Hans Ulrich Obrist conducts his most extensive interview to date with Sala, covering the artist’s early career, the innovative display features of his recent exhibitions, and his latest – and in some ways most ambitious – project. Liam Gillick's Focus centres on Sala’s 2004 film Now I See, a music video of sorts that deftly defies expectations. In the Artist’s Choice, two poems by Albanian poet Ervin Hatibi recall the inscrutable immediacy of Sala’s own work. Artist’s Writings include project notes on several of Anri Sala’s key works, the subtitles from his 2004 video Làk-kat and extracts from an ongoing conversation with Hans Ulrich Obrist that spans Sala’s artistic career.Specifications:
Mark Godfrey teaches at The Slade School of Fine Art, University College London. He has written catalogue essays on Fiona Tan, Tacita Dean and Matthew Buckingham, and he contributes regularly to Artforum, Frieze and October. In 2002 he curated an exhibition at Camden Arts Centre on the work of Douglas Huebler.
Hans Ulrich Obrist is Co-Director of Exhibitions and Programmes and Director of International Projects at the Serpentine Gallery, London. He has been co-curator of such international biennials as Manifesta 1 (Rotterdam, 1996), the 50th Venice Biennale (2003) and the 2nd Guangzhou Biennale (2005). Currently Inviato Speciale of Domus magazine, Obrist has also edited more than sixty books, including Hans Ulrich Obrist Interviews, Volume 1 (2003) and do it (2005).
Liam Gillick is an artist based in London and New York, whose work has received widespread acclaim, including a 2002 nomination for the Turner Prize.
On the Contemporary Artists Series
"The boldest, best executed, and most far-reaching publishing project devoted to contemporary art. These books will revolutionize the way contemporary art is presented and written about."—Artforum
"The combination of intelligent analysis, personal insight, useful facts and plentiful pictures is a superb format invaluable for specialists but also interesting for casual readers, it makes these books a must for the library of anyone who cares about contemporary art."—Time Out
"A unique series of informative monographs on individual artists."—The Sunday Times
"Gives the reader the impression of a personal encounter with the artists. Apart from the writing which is lucid and illuminating, it is undoubtedly the wealth of lavish illustrations which makes looking at these books a satisfying entertainment."—The Art Book