The intimacy that is indicated in Flaka Haliti’s work is mischievous. Here, personal experiences such as love, loneliness and longing are taken at face value but are immediately turned into points of systematic general inquiry. The banal becomes serious, and vice versa. Take, for example, the video installation I Miss You, I Miss You, ’Till I Don’t Miss You Anymore (2012), in which she reclaims love for art, from Hollywood and the rest of pop culture. Actual personal messages sent across long distances during the three stages of love – falling in love, being in love, falling out of love – are typed out on three flatscreens suspended from the ceiling. As the words appear in familiar, more or less clichéd phrases on the screens, they also resonate in the space, via Google Translate’s mechanical female voice, which renders them in English. Here Haliti is searching for the deep meaning in a shared yet unique experience.
Migration and other forms of mobility are the parents of the kind of long-distance relationships Haliti has in mind – 95 percent of which fail, according to the artist herself. Living between Pristina, Frankfurt and Munich, she should be no stranger to that situation. As a foreign student at Frankfurt’s St.delschule she explored the segregated, transitory expat community in the German banking capital and communications hub, where locals and internationals hardly meet. Interviews with expats were transformed into language-course-like audio tracks with simple statements such as “I came to Frankfurt for my job”, “I don’t speak German, as I don’t need it for my daily occupations” and “I feel international here”. Yet, coming from Pristina, the artist – like so many others – was continuously considered an immigrant rather than an ‘international’ in Germany.
There is almost always a performative element to Haliti’s work, whether she’s declaring artists’ legal immunity, like diplomats, in a newspaper announcement on 1 April, or smuggling a bull’s testes into a gallery. The latter happened in Pristina in 2007, at a time when only male artists from Kosovo were visible internationally. Addressing the imbalance, Haliti was met with the comment, ‘It’s because women don’t have balls’. Upon which she secretly introduced two such organs into an exhibition of her peers, filming the process and providing Kosovo with its very first illegal art action. Conformism is challenged, head-on, by this artist who may not have a signature style in terms of her work’s appearance, but definitely does in her approach. During 2014 she will have solo exhibitions at Mumok in Vienna, Kosovo National Gallery in Pristina and Studio Nihil Baxter in Berlin.
Originally published in the March 2014 FutureGreats issue, in association with EFG International