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oct27
Image: Elegant Sick Bus, 2001, installation and performance, Istanbul Biennial of Istanbul, Courtesy of artist and Yvon Lambert Paris/New York, © 2001-2007 Sislej Xhafa

Shine and Elegance of Clandestine Strength
Sislej Xhafa

Artist Talk
: Tuesday, October 30, 2007, 7pm

Location: Hart House, Debates Room
7 Hart House Circle, University of Toronto

In 1997, Sislej Xhafa, then a recent Albanian-Kosovor immigrant to Italy, made his official art world introduction as Padiglione Clandestino (Unofficial Albanian Pavilion). Dressed as an Albanian soccer player, carrying a ball and Albanian flag, he walked through the biennial grounds challenging visitors to games of skill. This and other earlier actions such as wearing black sun glasses in a Florentine square to look 'suspicious', have addressed the mechanisms of exclusion that target specific nationalities in western Europe and in the art world. The exclusion of Albania from the 'international' biennial, and the failure of the European Union to acknowledge Albania as a state, demonstrates how international cooperation can be determined largely by ethno-cultural borders.

Sislej Xhafa's performative interventions do not only underline or present national disparities, but have been able to update the institutions he critiques. In 1999, he was the first representative of an 'official' Albanian Pavilion at the Venice Biennial. His work, a large white building that appeared to cry, acknowledged that the inclusion into another system or country can come at the cost of one's autonomy and heritage.

Sislej Xhafa has presented work at the Venice Biennale (1999, 2005); Performa New York (2005); Palais de Tokyo and Tirana Biennial (2003); Gwangju Biennial (2002); Manifesta III (2000).

Organized by the Justina M. Barnicke Gallery.

Presented in conjunction with Rightfully Yours, an exhibition curated by JMB Gallery's Curator-in-Residence Tejpal S. Ajji.

Opening Thursday, November 15, 2007, 5pm - 7pm

Made possible with the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, Centre for the Study of the United States at the University of Toronto, Art and Art History Programme at the University of Toronto and Sheridan Institute of Technology, Toronto School of Art, and the Hart House Art Committee.

Justina M. Barnicke Gallery, Hart House, University of Toronto
7 Hart House Circle ,Toronto, Ontario, M5S 3H3
www.jmbgallery.ca

Telephone: (416) 978 - 8398
Fax: (416) 978 - 8387
Web: www.jmbgallery.ca
Email: jmb.gallery@utoronto.ca

Monday - Friday : 11 am - 7pm
Saturday - Sunday : 1 pm - 4pm