Albania in the Biennale di Venezia: 5 things you need to know

Armando Lulaj, the artist

1. The artwork presented this year was “Albanian Trilogy: A Series of Devious Stratagems”, a project by Armando Lulaj, and curated by Marco Scotini. The pavilion was organised around three pieces of footage combined with archival work and materials. The trilogy is a reflection on society and history, with particular focus on the Albanian experience of the Cold War, a piece that tackles nation building and the construction of collective consciousness. The exhibition has been built around the idea of a “time capsule”, it looks into the politics of socialism in conjunction with politics of memory through the years of socialism, aiming to stir the modern perception of that particular period.

2. The three parts of the trilogy are: “It Wears as It Grows”, “Never” and “Recapitulation”.

  • “It Wears as It Grows” showcases a Mediterranean sperm whale’s remains. The whale was killed after being mistaken for a spy submarine, in 1959 during a visit of Khrushchev in Albania. He was holding talks with communist leader Enver Hoxha in order to discuss war crafts and strategies.
  • “Never” presents footage from a time where young soldiers were forced into celebrating Enver in various ways and practices, one of which was painting his name on the entire side of a mountain. After the fall of the regime, the mountain was packed with explosives, and the letters were distorted into what now reads as “Never”.
  • “Recapitulation” is the third short film, showing a US Air Force airplane that entered Albanian airspace in 1957. It was blocked by Albanian authorities, and never allowed to leave the country. Until today, that plane remained untouched, permanently labelled as “the American Spy plane”.

3. Armando Lulaj, who is also a playwright and a writer, is mostly inspired by danger and conflict images.

3. It is the second time that Albania is featured in the Arsenale di Venezia, the first time being last year 2014 for the Biennale of Architecture. 

5. The Guardian listed the Albanian pavilion in its top 5 selection of this year’s Biennale, and Il Corriere della Sera listed it in its top 10.


It Wears as It Grows – in 1959 a Mediterranean sperm whale was shot, mistaken for a spy submarine

Armando Lulaj, by adicorbetta

“Never”, by DebatikCenter Film

“Recapitulation”, by DebatikCenter Film

"It Wears as It Grows" by DebatikCenter Film

“It Wears as It Grows” by DebatikCenter Film




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Sara - Tirana

I was born and raised in Tirana, then branched off on my own to live for a while in Italy, France, and now Hong Kong. I am a Political Sciences and Middle Eastern Studies student, a passionate of cinema, the arts and ...

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