Vénera Kastrati is an albanian contemporary artist naturalized as italian. She’s part of the last generation of artists who grew up under the communist dictatorship and that first crossed the national borders with the fall of the regime in the 90’s.
She was born in Tirana in 1975 by parents of Kosovar origin that remained in Albania following the forced closure of the border with Yugoslavia Republic. In the Albanian capital she received most of her school education. She studied violin at the famous institute “Kongresi i Permetit”, attended the Art School and the National Academy of Fine Arts where she got graduated in Painting and Graphics in 1997. At the age of 23, after a short period in Palermo at the experimental school of cuntista and puppeteer Mimmo Cuticchio, she moved to Milan and in 2004 she graduated at the Academy of Fine Arts of Brera with a thesis on cinema and psychoanalysis. Since 2011 resumed studying violin that stopped in teens and in 2015 exceeds the skills certification examination at the Conservatory of Brescia.
The arrival in Milan represents a turning point in her career, thanks to the fertile academic environment that allows her to get in touch with the stimulating international artistic reality and to experiment with new media such as photography, video, sound and installation. In 1999 she made her debut with her first solo show in Milan at “Spazio Umano” with a project dedicated to the dramatic political and humanitarian situation in Kosovo based on a video installation entitled “I heard her voice on the telephone”. In the same year she returned to Tirana to attend “Onufri 99” the most prestigious international event, at that time, dedicated to contemporary art in Albania. In 2000 she’s been included in the first collective show ever outside of Albania, dedicated to albanian contemporary art, organized by Flash Art at Palazzo Farnese in Ortona, with the title “We love Italy, Italy loves us”, curated by Edi Muka. In 2003 she’s been invited by the curator Harald Szeemann to participate in one of his memorable collective exhibition “Blut & Honig – Zukunft ist am Balkan” at Sammlung Essl in Klosterneuberg (Austria) and Bologna Art Fair as part of the special event “The Balkans, a Crossroad to the future”. In 2009 participates in “Krossing”, collateral event of the 53rd Venice Biennale and in the same year represents Albania at the 25th Biennale of Alexandria in Egypt dedicated to the Mediterranean countries. In 2014 she takes part in the “Artists for Guri i Zi”, project that materializes with a charity auction at Sotheby’s to raise funds for the construction of a social enterprise run entirely by women of that same Albanian village. She has participated in several editions of MiArt and Arte Fiera Bologna in collaboration with various galleries. Her works have been exhibited in galleries and museums as the Museum of Modern Art in Ascona (CH), Palazzo Rospigliosi in Rome, Palazzo della Penna in Perugia, Casa Masaccio in San Giovanni Valdarno, Marino Marini Museum in Firenze and the Triennale in Milano.
The artist is particularly sensitive to issues of the human condition in a state of emergency caused by totalitarianism, war or social discrimination, as well as recovery of the collective memory. In her projects are tackled issues such as the power that creates separation and claustrophobia, but also the need to preserve the memory and to cultivate nostalgia. Her identity suspended between Albania and Kosovo is a source of inspiration for many works such as “I heard her voice on the telephone”, “Seven Steps” or “Mirupafshim, Shadows of Voices”. The process of her work revolves around the creation of a scenography set, often based on the shadow’s theater, where the interest is concentrated on the fragility of objects and materials that have the characteristic to transform and dissolve under the weight of time and events, like the bed sugar of “Hospital”, the burning house of “Eclipse”, the fading shadows protagonists of “the woman Produces the man. The man will kill her “,” Sensation Seekers “and” The Utopian Blank Slate”.
“The political situation in the early 80s that caused the division of the border between Kosovo and Albania, has somehow left an indelible mark in my memory. The negation of the idea of belonging and the instability determined by identity insecurity are a source of inspiration for many of my projects. The procedure that I follow in the development of my work takes me often to create structural forms that allude to the documentary process: I collect pieces of the past in order to suggest a form to an identity in the present. I try in every way to universalize my idea, creating a sort of confusion and uncertainty, something that is positioned at the extreme limit of human existence. I am convinced that any life experience will contribute to the construction of a socio-cultural filter which is different for each individual. My aspiration is to be able to see through any filter, even for a moment, to understand how the same image is perceived differently in each person.”(Vénera Kastrati)