Depart To Somewhere Else

Depart To Somewhere Else

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Kosovar artist Driton Selmani, the author of last year's memorial intervention in Dotrščina ( link ), is currently presenting his works in Salon Galić in Split. The Depart to Somewhere Else exhibition can be viewed until September 17. The curator of the exhibition is Jasmina Šarić , whose text about Selmani's oeuvre can be read below.

A large part of Driton Selmani's creativity is based on thoughts, ideas, and statements that this artist draws from his immediate environment and everyday life, managing to capture and present the present of the society in which he lives. Born in Kosovo, where he lives, Selmani is truly a witness of his time, or what he describes as "the unbearable feeling of living on this meridian of the globe, and at this moment of the development of civilization". Taking as its starting point a state of uncertainty, whether as a place, a time or a story we believed in, the main premise of the exhibition suggests a journey to "somewhere else", an imagined place or an alternative reality where the myths of today and our contemporary rituals are intertwined, re-examined and reshaped.

Imagine finding a message in a bottle, the excitement, hope, and connection that moment brings...only to find out that inside is the most meaningless message, text that means nothing by itself and is only used to mark a place for text or display a font? This feeling is precisely how Selmani approaches the world around him, and consequently, these are the feelings he induces in the viewers of his works. Is it just irony or deep suspicion? What is real and what is fictional? Sometimes this process involves placing the seemingly meaningless on a pedestal – or, here, literally locking ignorance into an object left to eternity.

A little further, an unnaturally enlarged object in the shape of a life jacket, another symbol, instead of expressing its primary function, fills the space and draws it in, it is huge and inappropriate, almost suffocating. The irony, like many that we encounter every day - funny, but not funny at all - is emphasized by the performative act of dressing the statue of Domenico Modugno in the Italian town of Polignano a Mare. On the table, is an imaginary passport, an allegory of an equally imaginary journey from Pristina to Switzerland, the promised land. A legally binding document for "uncertain states of existence", which is followed by a series of drawings that premieres right at Salon Galić. The completely new work produced for this exhibition is a flag with a simple phrase that marks the location of the exhibition as a historically rich space overloaded with mass tourism, which is an indirect reference to Selmani's interest in heritage, history, and cultural changes, as well as his experience of Split in recent years (2020 . stayed at the residence and did interventions for Almissa Open Art 2020 and Praznine 2022). The message is both clear and ambiguous: Lucky you. Flags have a special place in Driton's practice: they are the perfect, however loose, symbol of a constructed identity, thus providing a multitude of possibilities for manipulation.

The cry for belonging is everywhere, but loudest in Teardrop, a work in which he embraces his uncertain position as an emerging artist in a foreign land, evoking an unimaginable parallel between two completely different entities that provide protection and security. A slightly more complex approach is found in These Stories, a video work that uses a juxtaposition of stories, one of which is the Apollo 11 moon landing, and the other takes place at the same time in his village in Kosovo, which has just received electricity. Here global and local, personal and collective merge into a new and unique event.

If the starting point of the exhibition is a state of uncertainty, the destination is not completely different. Non-places in Selmani's practice are more than a common motif - he sees them as possibilities - inspiration, opportunity, and places where anything could happen and is already happening. Placing them in the center of his interest, he at the same time denies their existence, as if non-places could be nothing but places in themselves.

An observer and pointer, more than a commentator, Selmani brilliantly manages to make sense of meaning and give meaning to what at first appears to be meaningless. His works are direct and honest, witty and clever, mostly playful, but always simple in all their complexity, offering us countless mind games. He always does this successfully and subtly transferring the political into the poetic. Because, no matter what is happening in the world, Selmani is a master of moments that he then successfully transfers into his art - and often these are key historical moments, whether it is the landing on the moon, the creation of a new state after a devastating war, or a pandemic. With a touch of detachment and the power of humor ("a sense of humor is not the opposite of seriousness, but the basis for it"), he takes his role as an artist seriously - to help us capture, reflect, question or just survive them.

Curated by: Jasmina Šarić / Salon Galić