Intervista, 1998 (video still), single-screen projection, 26:00 minutes, sound, b/w color
Anri Sala's films are concerned with political, social and cultural changes in Eastern Europe, and focus on the problems that emerged in the wake of the sociopolitical changes in his homeland, Albania. In his early work Intervista [Inteview], he wove together his personal story with themes from Albanian collective memory, and explored questions of cultural identity and the relationship between memory and history. The focus of this work is an old newsreel that the artist discovered in a shoebox he kept from his childhood in Albania. The newsreel captures the artist's mother as a young woman, expressing her militant views at a Communist organization meeting. The artist returned to his homeland in order to track down the film's original soundtrack, which he was eventually able to reconstruct with the help of a lip reader at a school for the deaf. The film's climax centers upon the emotionally charged interview the artist conducts with his mother while she reexamines the ideals and beliefs of her youth - as well as the failed dreams, painful disappointments and disillusionment of adulthood.
Sala's intimate, autobiographical video work tells a political story without resorting to didactic proclamations. He does not attempt to steer the viewer towards a specific value judgment, but rather observes both past and present in a sensitive and compassionate manner. The play between the mute past and the vocal present; the search for the soundtrack; and the translation of his mother's lip movements poetically express the gap between the rhetoric of the past and the words of the present.
Anri Sala was born in Tirana, Albania (1974). He holds a B.F.A. from the National Academy of Arts, Tirana (1992-1996); he also holds diplomas from the cole Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs, Paris (1996-1998); and from the Studio National des Arts Contemporains in Tourcoing, France (1998-2000). He has held numerous solo exhibitions at venues including the Musée d'Art Moderne et Contemporain, Geneva (2000); ARC Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (2004); and at The Art Institute of Chicago (2004). He has participated in numerous group exhibitions at venues including the Venice Biennale (1999, 2001); Manifesta in Ljubjana (2000); the Berlin Biennial for Contemporary Art (2001); the Sâo Paulo Biennial (2002); the Istanbul Biennial (2003); Tate Modern, London (2004); the Biennale of Sydney (2006); and at PS1 Contemporary Art Center, New York (2006). He lives and works in Berlin and Paris.