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Anri Sala

“I design each of my exhibitions not as a presentation or a collection of existing pieces, but as a work in itself.

Since he set out in the 1990s, Albanian artist Anri Sala has continually explored the links between image and sound. Through installations with particularly immersive scriptwriting, the artist creates clever combinations of timeframes to stimulate our senses.

Published on 11/11/2019

2 min

Born in 1974 in Tirana, Albania, from a very young age Anri Sala enrolled in artistic studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in his hometown, then travelled to France with his first stop in Paris where he studied video at the National Higher College of Decorative Arts (EnsAD), then left for Tourcoing, where he studied at the Fresnoy National Studio of Contemporary Arts. Today he lives and works in Berlin, Germany, where he creates works that blend image, sound and architecture.

Anri Sala belongs to the last generation of Albanian artists who grew up under the Communist regime of Enver Hoxha. It is through his first film Intervista (1998), showing his mother alongside the dictator at a Communist Youth Congress in 1970, that Anri Sala made a name for himself. As the video had lost its soundtrack, he had it transcribed by deaf people, thus placing the link between sounds, images and characters at the centre of its artistic concerns. 

While video soon became his favourite medium, Anri Sala’s practice has also developed around a vast selection of media including installation, sound design, architecture and photography, as well as drawing and sculpture. Addressing the subject of art in a symphonic manner, Anri Sala writes the scripts for his exhibitions-installations — which he considers to be works in their own right — in the form of musical scores.

Since 1999, Anri Sala has participated five times in the prestigious Venice Biennial. In 2013 he was chosen by the Institut français to represent France with his work Ravel Ravel Unravel. This visual and sound installation consists of two screens on which two pianists can be seen separately interpreting the famous Concerto for the Left Hand with the French National Orchestra composed by Maurice Ravel for Paul Wittgenstein, after the latter lost his right arm during the war. Finally a third screen shows DJ Chloé (Chloé Thévenin) attempting to synchronise the two pianos. Referring to the homographic title of the work based on the name of Ravel and the verbs ravel meaning "tangle" and unravel, "detangle", the two interpretations coexist and are intertwined. They clash, collide, nudge each other, follow each other, seem to be searching for each other and correspond to one another in a continuous flow of rare power and fragility, unique to the Anri Sala installations.

From August 2019, Anri Sala will direct one of the Fundación Botín’s plastic arts workshops in Santander, Spain. His work will then be exhibited at the Botín Centre from November 2019 to March 2020, as his first personal exhibition in Spain. Continuing his reflection on narrative structures and the concept of the dual, the exhibition will be divided into two parts, presenting different films produced by Anri Sala in recent years in pairs. A true meta-narrative, this unique exhibition will also be an opportunity for the artist to present to the public a new device for showing images in motion, through the use of a gigantic screen that will occupy the entire space.

  • 2001

    2001

    Anri Sala enters the Chantal Croussel Gallery in Paris and receives the Young Artist Prize at the 49th Venice Biennial.

  • 2011

    2011

    His personal exhibition Anri Sala is shown at the Serpentine Gallery in London, UK.

  • 2012

    2012

    His personal exhibition Anri Sala is shown at the Georges-Pompidou National Centre for Art and Culture, more commonly known as the "Georges-Pompidou Centre", in Paris.

  • 2013

    2013

    Anri Sala represents France at the 55th Venice Biennial with his Ravel Ravel Unravel installation.

  • 2016

    2016

    His personal exhibition Answer Me is shown at the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York, USA.

  • 2019

    2019

    Monographic exhibition at the Grand Duc Jean Museum of Modern Art (MUDAM) in Luxembourg, Luxembourg. Personal exhibition at the Fundacion Botin, Santander, Spain.

The Institut français and the artist

Anri Sala is supported by the IF Monographie programme provided by the Institut français for his exhibition at Fundacion Botin in Santander, Spain from 16 November 2019 to 1 March 2020. IF Monographie aims to support international monographic exhibitions of French artists or artists living in France.

Learn more about the IF Monographie programme.

 

L'institut français, LAB