When art lovers enter the mumok, it usually feels like entering a bunker. But today the huge gray palace for modern art may surprise the visitors. On -2nd floor the narrow space suddenly becomes wide open with clouds and fresh cool air. Flaka Haliti, the winner of the renowned Henkel Award, is sharing in her exhibition “I see a face. Do you see a face.” her images, associations and creativity and leaves us in awe. The simple technology shows a big effect, not only emotionally but on how we all share one planet and that the sky is not a limit. Flaka Haliti, a calm and distinguished young woman, took some time to tell Carolina Vinqvist about her art, goals and herself.
Describe your current exhibition in three words.
OK, good, wait. (Laughs)
The exhibition is called „I See a Face. Do You See a Face“ – what face do you see?
They’re all different in a sense that I try to give them a unique character. Some lines are thick, some are thin. With that I try to give a certain motive to the cloud and in the meantime I’m playing with the idea, that the line is defining it’s character. In that sense the faces carry a different story – some faces are smart, some silly, some funnier, and some have no gender. There is not a prototype. And even though they’re all made with the same photoshop technology, they are all different.//
You are from Pristina but live and work in Munich and Vienna. How do the faces differ in those three places?
When I say that there are different characters, it’s the same for Munich, Vienna and Pristina. Munich and Vienna have similar faces, because they’re geographically very close and share similarities in language, life-style, communication.
Can that exhibition be understood as an answer to your cosmopolitan life „The sky is everywhere the same“?
For me, the three places where I live and work are all home to me. I feel connected to all of them. Some parts of me stay in Vienna, some in Munich and some in Pristina, so together they’ve all become piece of home.
As a child, almost everyone imagines certain creatures in a cloud. You seem to take it to another level by creating a narrow space, but developing an illusion of broadness. What inspired you to this installation?
When I first met the mumok-team they showed me the room and I was told that the -2nd floor has the lowest ceiling of the whole museums exhibition displays. This was something that I thought to integrate into my work. And of course, once I was aware of this special room, I was influenced on how to develop a strategy for my exhibition. My idea was to make the room bigger, and the only way to do so is to use the whole volume of the space. I wanted to use the complete physicality. What you didn’t feel before now becomes clear due to the columns and the acknowledgment of the height of the room. And the clouds also bring in the perspective of an open space. Some people said they feel like going outside by entering the room, which is the biggest compliment.
Generally, how does your start at mumok feel?
It’s a big honour and absolutely thrilling! The team is very supportive and I felt very safe and good during the process. They took care of me and my work, so also a big thanks to them.
How is your art received in your home country?
Different, I think. My work is very eclectic and aesthetic. Sometimes it’s hard to define, so I guess it relies on people to be open for it. I think that now the different perception towards my work is opening up more and more, but it’s still shaping.
Is there an artist or person you look up to?
I don’t look up to someone in particular. I take bits and pieces from loads of artists. This way it helps me to define what I like. Sometimes I see something and think „Oh this could be me“ but it never comes out the same. Also I don’t want to mimic, but what I take is inspiration. Some of it comes from my books.
So what’s your favorite book?
There’s the one I also quote in my artwork. It’s „Stupidity“ by Avital Ronell.
Do you use your art to work up memories from the war in Kosovo or does it not affect you and your work?
Back then I was 17, 18 years old and not an artist yet, so I didn’t use it. Lots of artists use it as a main subject in order to deal with their trauma or memory. If my art touched that subject, then in a more post-war sense. The aftermath of war has loads of elements that are a part of me. I react to the current situation.
How do you see eastern and southern European art on a global scale?
There are a lot of good artists which are internationally known as well. My favorites for example are Sanja Ivekovic, Mladen Stilinovic, Anri Sala, Selja Kameric and many others. They don’t belong to just one geographical setting anymore.
What’s your dream place to exhibit?
It’s hard to say. It would be boring to say New York or Tokyo. But of course those have great institutions. I try to live in the now and don’t set a goal to reach. I concentrate more on how to get the best results for the day.
What are your next steps for the coming year?
I have a few solo shows and collective exhibitions. The next will be in Museum of Yugoslav History in Belgrade. Also, as a part of my Henkel Art Award, my mumok exhibition will travel to Kosovo and be shown in the National Art Gallery in Pristina. Another solo exhibition will be in the studio Nihil Baxter in Berlin and then another in Tirana, and few more are still being planned, which I cannot make public yet.
Last question: Who’s your favorite artist of all time?
I like to think in colors not in names, but if I’d have to name one then probably Judith Hopf. Now I got to understand her work more and at some points it even influences me in certain ways. But you must know the secret: she was my professor at Städelschule. Last but not least, if I buy an art work to keep at home, then I definitely would like to get works from all my main ex-professors, Fatmir Krypa, Judith Hopf, and Renate Lorenz. They mean a lot to me, already today.
Interview by Carolina Vinqvist