On April 25, 2024, Harabel inaugurated “Cut me to pieces” (Copash), a solo exhibition of the artist Greta Pllana, curated by Ajola Xoxa, at Harabel’s Naan Gallery in Tirana.

Greta Pllana lives and works in Milan (Italy), but the childhood spent in her native Albania constantly resonates in her work, unfolding the narrative of the role of the woman in the Albanian society, past and present. Greta was a little girl when she ventured the rituals of the Albanian wedding, unconsciously witnessing one of the loudest expressions of patriarchy. In the exhibition “Cut Me to Pieces” artist Greta Pllana delves into the patriarchal norms entrenched in traditional marriage ceremonies, revealing how these rituals, silently but firmly, underscore women’s subordination. The show is conceived as a narrative ceremony, unfolding through Pllana’s evocative paintings, where everyday objects, such as ashtrays and glasses take on new, symbolic meanings. These ordinary items, often reserved with alcohol for men while offering ‘softer,’ more ‘feminine’ drinks to women (the same served to children), subtly reinforce gender roles. Pllana’s work captures the moment a bride is ‘handed over’ to her future husband, often through arrangements devoid of the couple’s personal choice, and explores intimate moments of private life. A site-specific painting of the artist, intentionally presented on the smallest room of the Gallery on the upper floor, features a triangular composition: a woman hands money to a man, watched by a young girl, distantly observing. This imagery not only critiques the economic transactions inherent in traditional matrimonial settings but also the emotional and societal impacts of these transactions on younger generations. In this case, it is the woman who offers the money to her husband, presented in a pinkish peachy almost dreamy painting, as a subtle suggestion for change. Further, the exhibition includes several portraits, often serenely picture perfect…, but all of them are always juxtaposed with thistle flowers – a motif Pllana frequently captures during mountain hikes. Thistles, which bloom resiliently in harsh, arid environments without need for care except for sunlight, metaphorically mirror the feminine condition, symbolizing both resilience and defense in adversity. Another kind of beauty, but the thistle flowers speak even stronger than the portraits, still life not so still…

Pllana does not just seek to answer but to initiate a dialogue, posing a challenge to the status quo as the first step towards change. The exhibition encourages viewers to dissect and examine not only the art but the deeply ingrained societal structures it reflects, making it a poignant exploration of gender, autonomy, and the quest for personal and societal transformation.

Ajola Xoxa