Friday, 11 April 2014, 24:00 | midnight

#54: Anri Sala

Anri Sala is one of the outstanding artists of our time who came to prominence for videos and films mining his personal experience to reflect on the social and political change taking place in his native Albania.

Since his early works, Sala has attached a growing importance to sound, creating remarkable works in which he recasts sound’s relationship to the image. Linked to this development is Sala’s long-standing interest in performance, and particularly musical performance.

Anri Sala presents:

Long Sorrow, 2005, 12:57 min
Long Sorrow says Sala, is the result of a “rather particularly set-up situation, rather than a narrative structure. Its more a succession of tinted situations, coloured by moments of tension, gestures and music that can make you feel”. The location for this event is Märkische Viertel, an area in North Berlin with dense apartment buildings, close to where the wall used to be, built between 1965 and 1974 as a new concept of building. The longest building here is nicknamed by its inhabitants Lange Jammer (Long Sorrow). In the film, suspended outside of the top floor of the building, the free jazz saxophonist Jemeel Moondoc responds to the city around him, improvising a piece with only his head visible through the window from inside the apartment. Sala positions his subject in suspension, such that the experience of place and sound is itself a “prolongation of the architecture of the ‘long sorrow'”. Long Sorrow was produced by Nicola Trussardi Foundation in Milan.

Answer Me, 2008,  4:51 min
Answer Me was filmed in the abandoned dome of the NSA field station on Berlin’s Teufelsberg and uses the structure’s unique architecture to investigate the effect of space on the production of sound. The dome’s distinctive echo, triggered in the film by a man playing the drums in the large, empty space, drowns out all of the dialogue spoken by the female character, with the exception of the words that give the film its title.

Tlatelolco Clash, 2011, 11:49 min
Tlatelolco Clash was filmed in Mexico. Different people are seen, each holding a perforated sheet of music featuring The Clash’s Should I Stay Or Should I Go score for barrel organ. Each sheet is encoded with a distinct part of the score and when cranked through the barrel organ, it simultaneously yields a different rhythm and tempo of the song. In Tlatelolco Clash, Sala maps his idea onto history, exploring the composition of historical memory within the context of physical space. Sala believes architecture and spatial environment are as important to the performance of sound as sound itself, and he has thus chosen to film this performance against a backdrop of stone ruins interspersed with tall residential buildings – new developments allegedly built on top of the site where the Aztecs lost while battling against Cortés during the Spanish conquest and where snipers led a student massacre during the riots of 1968, just ten days before the Mexico City Olympics.

1395 Days without Red, 2011, 43:46 min
1395 Days without Red relives the besieging of the city of Sarajevo that began 21 years ago and lasted nearly four years. No city in the 20th century had to endure a siege longer, and somehow carry on with daily life. The habit developed among the population not to wear bright clothing so as to not excite the attention of the snipers.The film accompanies a musician on her route through the city. To the rhythm of the music from Tschaikovsky’s Pathéthique, the woman moves through the streets and over junctions. The highly sensitive city’s main boulevard has entered the annals of history as Sniper Alley. Visible from the hills surrounding the city and from the snipers positioned there, these street-crossings symbolize the moments of decision between life and death. 1395 Days Without Red began as a jointly conceived project of Šejla Kamerić and Anri Sala (in collaboration with Ari Benjamin Meyers and Liria Bégéja), which led to two separate films of differing focuses.


Anri Sala (b. 1974 in Tirana, Albania) lives and works in Berlin. He has exhibited internationally for many years, with solo shows at Haus der Kunst, Munich (2014); the 55th Venice Biennale (2013); the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (2012); the Serpentine Gallery, London (2011); the Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati (2009); the Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami (2008); and the Fondazione Nicola Trussardi, Milan (2005); among other venues. Sala has received the Vincent Award (2014), the 10th Benesse Prize (2013), the Absolut Art Award (2011), and the Young Artist Prize at the Venice Biennale (2001). He has taken part in many group exhibitions and biennials, including the 12th Havana Biennial (2015), the Sharjah Biennial 11 (2013), the 9th Gwangju Biennial (2012), dOCUMENTA (13) (2012), the 29th São Paulo Biennial (2010), the 2nd Moscow Biennial of Contemporary Art (2007), and the 4th Berlin Biennial (2006).

See also: Anri Sala’s solo exhibition at the New Museum, New York