From September 10th to October 15th, Bazament Art Space opens its doors to Olson Lamaj’s personal exhibition “The Cat above and the Mouse below” curated by Markus Waitschacher. The variety of bridges between the visitor and the exhibition includes: voice recording, sketches, cartoon, installation and video, each of which enjoys its own independence as it logically relates to the exhibition as a whole.


The first chamber takes us to a noisy multilingual setting, through listening, where classical concert ticket sellers, dressed as Wolfgang Amadeus Moxart, often Albanian immigrants, try to attract tourists. During Lamaj’s stay in Vienna, one of these salesmen does confess that he became acquainted with Mozart thanks to the cartoon “Tom and Jerry”. Ironically, the sounds used in childhood films at the country of origin are transformed into the holding pillar in the host country.

Throughout the gallery, the three pencil sketches along with the video exemplify the presence of two opposing forces, one of which enjoys size supremacy while the other is forever at peril. However, beyond the advantages of the “predator” at the end of the cartoon, it is the mouse that “steals” centre-stage and the viewer’s applause at the same time. All of this opposing clash grows in symbolic proportions at the central part of the gallery; where the works that embody the political and social events in pre-post-socialist Albania, invite you to dive in time and scrutinize them as a way to understand the essence of the way this society operates, as well as to recognize the consequences of the severe clashes between its layers.

The installation of two hanging rings of light, is a reminder of a gymnastic sporting premises and indeed, the work in question originates from there: an old photograph depicting an athlete training in the sports arena in Shkodra, a place transformed into a sports arena after the dissolution of the religious institution that was initially there, of a building that used to be a church. Capturing one of the moments during the swing exercise, in a cult setting as a backdrop, where bodily balance is strongly sought, proves nothing but the loss of logical balance of an entire society.

It is precisely this installation that enables the connection with the centre piece of the exhibition, the video which presents, intertwines from time to time, plan after plan, the same setting, the church-sports arena itself. The video content represents a sporting match, its preparatory moments and under close observation shows the premises where the match unfolds, by placing next to one anther the similar plans (views) between the church ceiling and the exercise floor.

Overall this exhibition was driven from cultural and sports venues, various human-education environments (including the spiritual setting, the church). In essence, the exhibition carries the cognitive action in time and space; it recalls the political stance (prohibition of religious belief); social submission and adjustment up to an identity disorientation; the consequence of this disorientation, social reaction (migration and emigration).

* Olson Lamaj (born 1985) is an Albanian artist living and working in Tirana. His work investigates social and political issues related both to contemporary life in Albania and to more universal and timeless systems of meaning extending beyond immediate conditions. As one of the co-founders of MIZA Gallery in Tirana, Lamaj’s own experience as an artist has been related to the establishment of artistic spaces and institutions in Tirana. Lamaj’s projects emphasize the semiotic oversaturation – and the mysterious, almost mystical qualities – of objects and images related to political ideologies of various kinds. His artworks function as a collective mythography of the present, laying the groundwork for the projection and creation of new myths.