View of “Petrit Halilaj,” 2017. Photo: Julie Joubert.

Petrit Halilaj

Kamel Mennour | Rue du Pont de Lodi

View of “Petrit Halilaj,” 2017. Photo: Julie Joubert.

Wallpaper composed of the pages of ABETARE, an Albanian spelling book, was arranged in a grid over the two long walls of the Kamel Mennour gallery’s first room. At one time, such books were tools of resistance: In 1998, when Petrit Halilaj, age twelve, fled Kosovo to take refuge in Albania, the Serbian government was forcing people to speak Serbo-Croatian and forbidding them to learn Albanian. Each page of the book not only depicts an individual letter but also accompanies it with stereotypical representations of Albanian usage and customs. 

A metal butterfly affixed to the wall pointed visitors to the next room, which housed an installation composed of two elements. On one side were twelve desks from the Shotë Galica elementary school in the village of Runik, north of Kosovo, which the artist attended from 1992 to 1997. On the other side were numerous sculptures in steel wire of

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