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Performance for Migrant Domenico Modugno:

Driton Selmani in Polignano a Mare

The performance concluded with the intervention of the local police in the town of Polignano a Mare, in the province of Bari, resulting in the removal of the life jacket placed by the Kosovar artist on the monument dedicated to the famous musician.

The topic of migration remains at the forefront of current discussions. The installations of Ai Weiwei, such as his boats in Vienna at the Belvedere, or in Florence on the facade of Palazzo Pitti, serve as poignant reminders of the desperate journeys of men and women escaping war and seeking a better life. This sentiment is echoed in various initiatives across Europe, including recent developments in Polignano a Mare, which has emerged as a hub for contemporary art with the establishment of new galleries like Like a Little Disaster and Vento Blu, alongside performances in public spaces, such as the one we are discussing here.

The performance revolves around the notion that Domenico Modugno, a prominent figure in the Apulian town alongside Pino Pascali, to whom a foundation bears his name, represents one of the most famous "migrants" in the world. This perspective is evoked through Modugno's rendition of "Amara Terra Mia," a poignant song capturing the melancholy of emigration.

Under the guidance of Roberto Lacarbonara, Kosovar artist Driton Selmani, born in 1987 and originally from Prishtina, undertook a daring daytime intervention. Selmani adorned the statue of the renowned Apulian musician, whose outstretched arms embrace the Adriatic Sea—a passage frequented by many migrants—with a life jacket. This gesture sparked various reactions, including irritation from tourists unable to photograph the unaltered statue. Amidst both approval and indignation, the life jacket was confiscated by the local police.

Selmani's visit to Italy coincides with his solo exhibition at the Exchiesetta, a unique gallery housed within a deconsecrated church overlooking one of the country's most breathtaking vistas. One of Selmani's works on display, "Country on My Back," features handcrafted knives suspended from strings beneath large black balloons, exploring the unresolved ambiguities of contemporary civil, political, and religious coexistence. This work naturally references the ongoing political and social challenges in the artist's home country.

Santa Nastro / Artribune

Driton Selmani — Wanderlust, 2016
Tailor-made life vest, 120 x 170 cm
Intervention / Video performance on Domenico Modugno statue
Polignano a Mare, Italy, October 2016
Images & Video: Roberto Lacarbonara
Courtesy of the Artist ©