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Alban Muja, Family Album, 1999.
Alban Muja, Family Album, 1999.

Alban Muja to Represent Kosovo at 2019 Venice Biennale

The Republic of Kosovo announced today that artist Alban Muja will create a new video installation, Family Album, for the Kosovar pavilion at the Fifty-Eighth Venice Biennale. The pavilion, curated by Vincent Honoré and commissioned by Arta Agani, director of the National Gallery of Kosovo, will explore the legacies of the Kosovo War (1998–99)—this year marks the twentieth anniversary of the conflict’s end—and how photojournalism and the media have both shaped and elided the veracity of personal and collective memory.

Muja was born in Mitrovica, Kosovo, in 1980, and studied at the Faculty of Arts, University of Pristina. His practice excavates the ways historical and political experience can manifest and be traced in unexpected places, such as the naming of children. For his tongue-in-cheek photographs titled Tonys, 2010, for instance, Muja photographed nine boys, all born in 1999 and named Tony, dressed like the former UK prime minister Tony Blair and set against a billboard with Blair’s face. 

In a review of the artist’s work at the Institute for Contemporary Art, Zagreb, Kate Sutton writes: “Alban Muja investigates both the import and impotency of nomenclature in Kosovo. Under Slobodan Milošević, the act of naming was one of the sole forms of agency allowed Kosovar Albanians. While borders may have been shuttered, there were no restrictions on calling one’s children after Albanian cities.”

The Republic of Kosovo’s inaugural pavilion at Venice took place in 2013. This year’s edition of the Biennale opens on May 11 and runs through November 24.