Critics’ Picks

  • Driton Selmani, The Barking of the Clouds Does Not Hurt the Dogs, 2022, welded steel, broken glass, 330 3/4 x 23 5/8". Installation view.

    Driton Selmani, The Barking of the Clouds Does Not Hurt the Dogs, 2022, welded steel, broken glass, 330 3/4 x 23 5/8". Installation view.

    Skopje

    Driton Selmani

    Museum of Contemporary Art Skopje (MoCA)
    Samoilova 17
    November 4, 2022–February 25, 2023

    Driton Selmani’s site-specific interventions, drawings, and typographic sculptures incorporate simplified figuration, vivid colors, and text to express aspects of his everyday experience, from his personal life to popular culture and politics.

    This exhibition takes its title from Selmani’s site-specific work The Barking of the Clouds Does Not Hurt the Dogs, 2022, a riff on both Charles Baudelaire and a Berber proverb. Installed on the roof of the museum’s atrium, the typographic sculpture is set against the sky above a pile of broken glass. The ever-shifting cloudscape provides a context and animates the text, but the real thrust of the piece is semiotic. By attributing the qualities of a dog to the clouds, the artist inhabits a poetic terrain resignifying both and wittily affecting the representational relation between word and image.

    “Love Letters,” 2018–, an ongoing series of drawings on found plastic bags, sketches out alternative forms of domesticity and ecopolitics. The series as a whole draws from the transactional dimension of the artist’s relationship with his partner; following the birth of a child, what was once an exchange of romantic text messages gave way to long shopping lists for household needs. The selection of bags on display here reflects on the artist’s present insecurities and concerns about revisionist tendencies in light of fake news. The texts employ narrative elements that often poke fun at hope and hopelessness, superficiality and depth. While the humor risks rendering these messages meaningless, it also provides a relatable way of responding to and coping with the events of today. Written with black marker, the inscribed messages range from “Our past is our common future” to the direct, but no less cryptic, “Fake but true” (a nod to the city’s disastrous “Skopje 2014” urban-planning makeover). The plastic bag is not only the medium through which Selmani vocalizes his hesitations, but also—given that the material of these durable “disposable” goods is costly to recycle and takes years to decompose—ironically the safest way to preserve the artist’s “love letters” for the distant future.