Sep 7, 2016 - Sep 27, 2016

LONDON DESIGN BIENNALE 2016 - National Participation of Albania

Albanian Institute New York

Utopia By Design

Albanian Pavilion
The Albanian Pavilion for the 2016 London Design Biennale, presented a sculpture installation consisting of concentric arrangement of columns and benches designed to encourage both self-reflection and solidarity. The mirrored surfaces of the taller columns create reflections, creating myriad opportunities for interaction, while the circular layout of the benches was designed to facilitate democratic discussions and exchanges, demonstrating the need for community and unification in any ideal city.
Somerset House, London
The inaugural London Design Biennale took place at the Somerset House, the most celebrated arts and cultural center in the heart of the British capital. The Biennale occupied the entirety of Somerset House, including the famous Edmond J. Safra Fountain Court, surrounded on all sides by glorious 19th century buildings.

Albanian installation was chosen to occupy the dramatic courtyard space, the Edmond J. Safra Fountain Court of Somerset House, alongside Great Britain’s, which made it one of the most prominent pieces at this pioneering and prestigious international event.

The configuration echoes the theory proposed by the French philosopher Louis Marin. Marin believed that every political system was haunted at its center by utopia, an unconscious and repressed dream of better that occasionally returned to disrupt the present.

The theme was Utopia by Design, and countries response celebrated their unique cultural identities and embraced an impressive diversity of approaches to the theme, engaging with some of the fundamental issues faced by humanity.

Albania’s response explores the value of utopian thought in times of uncertainty. With reference to the current migration crisis, the core of the installation bears the engraved outline of Europe’s borders, considered by many refugees as a “modern-day utopia”.

The installation also reveals that there is a political void at the center of all political systems. You stand there in the middle wrapped up by this wall of mirrors, but from the benches that surround it, you can’t be seen – it’s inaccessible.

37 Nations from Six Continents
(The Great Arch entrance on Victoria Embankment)

The Biennale's diverse installations, artworks, prototypes and designs were curated by the world's leading museums and institutions from 37 countries spanning over six continents, each exploring the theme, Utopia by Design: Albania, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Chile, Croatia, Cuba, France, Germany, Greece, India, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Mexico, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Shenzhen-China, Spain, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, and the United States of America.

Winner of The Public Medal
Albania was the national entry winner of the Public Medal. Sir John Sorrell CBE, President of the Biennale, presenting the Public Medal to Dino Korca, curator of the Albanian Pavilion at the Somerset House, London, United Kingdom. Sept. 22, 2016. The installation was incredibly well-received by critics, the press, and international visitors, and helped to widen public awareness and understanding of the rich Albanian contemporary culture. 

Referencing utopian planning of Renaissance cities, the installation is a concentric arrangement of columns and benches that are designed to encourage both self-reflection and bringing people together.

During the Biennale, a quarter of a million people visited Somerset House from all over the world, including the venue’s highest weekly visitor figures ever recorded.

Dino Korca: The Pursuit of Happiness

The Biennale featured a highly curated public talks programme, where Dino Korca was invited to give a presentation that it was titled: “The Pursuit of Happiness”.

“A map of the world that does not include utopia is not even worth glancing at,” wrote Oscar Wilde “for it leaves out the country at which Humanity is always landing. And when Humanity lands there, it looks out, and, seeing a better country, sets sail. Progress is the realization of Utopias.” In this presentation, Dino Korca talked about the idea of progress, where the Pursuit of the idea is more interesting than the final destination.

Utopia has come to mean a place of ideal perfection, for Korca, however, utopia is a journey rather than a destination. He says:

“There is no such thing as a perpetually perfect place, because life itself is but motion, always in a state of change. We are driven by a desire for an ideal life, and it is because we have within us the restlessness, a deep, innate desire to keep moving forward, evolving, progressing.”

Credits: Story

The Exhibit featured is organized and curated by Albanian Institute New York for Google Cultural Institute, 2016.

Albanian Pavilion was commissioned by the Albanian Institute New York, the administering body, the sculpture was designed by Helidon Xhixha, and the installation was curated by Dino Korca.
Photography: Jordi Rubio, unless otherwise noted

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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