The “Ardhje” award was held for the fourteenth year, by Galeri Zeta. The participating artists of this year are: Bib Frrokaj, Sead Kazanxhiu, Gerta Xhaferaj and Fabiola Skraqi. The members of the international jury for this year’s edition are Osmancan Yerebacan, Roberto Lacarbunara and the Albanian curator Alban Hajdinaj. The award winning work for 2022 is The Eel Line and the Garden of Eden, an installation created by artist Sead Kazanxhiu. The exhibition curated by Marko Stamenkoviç will be open to visitors from September 19 to October 8, 2022.
Bib Frrokaj (b. 1992, Lezhë), participated in this year’s “Ardhje” exhibition with the installation/mixed media entitled Hidden Mountains of the Mat River. His research started from the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, from the impossibility to closely observe the nature along the river that passes through the area where the artist was born (north-west of Albania), he used Google Maps as an intermediary alternative for his newest project. Images recorded by aerial satellites became a point of reference for many of the sketches he made in water colors. Subsequently, the artist’s work continued beyond drawings referenced by the technology screen, to tangible images of nature. On a paper measuring 430x137cm displayed horizontally on one of the walls of the gallery, Frrokaj has shaped the views of these “dunes” through drawing. On its two sides, 4 drawings measuring 21x30cm made on carbon paper and a screen displaying digitized satellite images sketched by the artist are also exhibited. This work of Frrokaj brings the focus to the lack of attention to this area and the massive human intervention on it.
Garden of Eden and The Eel Line, is an installation created by artist Sead Kazanxhiu (b. 1987, Fier) for this exhibition. In the installation measuring 380x210cm created with different materials such as: cherry seeds, textile material and cane, these words are written: “O miri phuv so guli sinan! Dav tut mo lav, jek dive ka irinav tuqe sa so lilom tutar: o rukha, o luludja, e čiriklen, e 3ivutren, o uźo pani thaj sa so si tire miri phuv”, meaning: “Oh my land, how sweet you are! I promise that one day I will return everything I took from you: the trees, the flowers, the animals, the birds, the clean water and everything that belongs to you, my land!”. This creation is closely related to his village Baltëz, where the waterway known as the Eel Line has been passing through it for a long time. This has influenced the natural deterioration of this area, thus depriving it from the ecological and human well-being. Inspired by one of the best-known examples of forest protection, that of the photographer Sebastião Salgado, Kazanxhiu incorporates in his installation the fruit seeds of the trees planted by him earlier in the village of Baltëz, to leave a path for a healthier future for people and nature, bringing back the values of a flourishing garden, or seeking to compare its transformation into the “Garden of Eden”.
Gerta Xhaferaj comes to the “Ardhje” exhibition with her sound installation Liminal Hymn, which consists of objects found in areas under construction: stones, bricks, tiles, wood and iron, accompanied by an audio. Regarding her studies in architecture and her extensive knowledge in this field, in her creation she refers to the remains from the ruins of buildings in her hometown, Tirana. Xhaferaj faces the massive changes of the last two decades in different directions and at the same time rapid in the city. What appear to be remains in this installation are actually fragments collected by Xhaferaj in the areas of the ruined buildings. This artifact becomes part of the chaotic state of a developing city that directly affects collective living.
Fabiola Skraqi (b. 1989, Lushnjë) presented a diptych made with oil on canvas, with dimensions of 100×70, entitled Metamorphosis. In these two paintings, unusual images and shapes appear in reddish, brown and yellow tones that go beyond the physical appearance to the inner human anatomy. Skraqi deliberately researches towards these images, wanting to move away from the first impact, the appearance, which has attracted a wide mass towards its importance, and focusing on what the artist calls “inner landscapes”. Her work originates from a personal experience during a medical intervention in her vertebral cavity. Microscopic exposures that display physical images of the human interior are displayed in surreal forms through the artist’s painting.
The “Ardhje” award, supported by the Ministry of Culture, grants the artist a two-month experience in the residency program at “Residency Unlimited” New York, which will take place in 2023.