The German artist of Albanian descent, Anna Ehrenstein, will hold her personal exhibition “Tales of Lipstick and Virtue” at the “Bazament Art Space” from October 24th to December 20th, 2019. The exhibition is held in collaboration with the German Embassy in Tirana.
Because of her dual ethnicity, perhaps, in this exhibition the artist in question did not wish to elaborate on the meaning of national identity. Also, she does not prefer to focus on what has already been repeated, namely poverty, the consequences of communism, and so on. She decided to focus on a different Albania and the female class (Albanian women), which are exemplary everywhere. Portraits of women selected by the artist affirm their femininity especially through brightly coloured dresses. The women she selected for this exhibition have a “special relationship with the material culture”.
Anna uses photography, installation and video in the exhibition to artistically highlight contemporary issues related to authenticity, human gender, social class, self-representation, racial prejudice, etc., issues that affect the majority of the society. The photographic perspective contains mainly portraits of women in Albania; documentary, fashion and advertising photography; feminine ornaments; cheap goods or window display reflections of Tirana’s showing discounted prices.
In reflecting this extreme, hyper-feminine aesthetic, it seems that the artist, while drawing inspiration from everyday life and the mass, tries to show her own perspective, which bears opposition to the stereotypes surrounding Albanian women. Evidently, their hyper-feminism resembles an act of rebellion; where through clothing they oppose possession / rule / oppression from one sex to another and from political and social systems.
Also, the artist “forces” us to turn our attention to the false glitter and the reasons this culture rose in Albania. The explosion of late capitalism and at the same time the phenomenon of globalization in this country explains the so-called “luxury” trends in Albanian society. It is precisely this tendency to false glamour (pseudo-luxury) that can undermine Albanian culture, presenting it as backward and non-original.
In her artistic activity, Anna Ehrenstein prefers working with diverse social communities. She is attracted by popular culture and the means of mass interaction. And what may sound ordinary to everyone, to the artist in question, is simply different and no less valuable than anything else. Anna raises questions through her exhibit, by placing elite and popular culture face to face as well as truth versus falsehood.
* Anna Ehrenstein is of Albanian descent and was born in Germany in 1993. She graduated from Dortmund University with a degree in photography. Since then, her artistic approach combines photography, video, installation and live performances, through which she focuses on the concepts of gender, of class and power. Selected publications: “Tales of lipstick and virtue”, Edition Bessard, Paris, FR; “Authority can appear as a cosmic nebula”, self-published, DE; n*a*I*l*s, District Berlin & lothringer 13, Munich, DE. Selected solo shows: bazament Tirana, AL; bibliothekswohnung Berlin, DE; galerie lichtblick Cologne, DE; circulations museum centquatre Paris, FR; warte für kunst kassel, DE; landskrona fotofestival, SE; Galerie Sira, Zagreb, HR. Anna Ehrenstein has also participated in a number of joint exhibitions, workshops and art meetings.