LONDON DESIGN BIENNALE 2016 - National Participation of Albania

Utopia By Design

By Albanian Institute New York


Albanian Pavilion at London Design Biennale 2016 | Installation view No. 9 (2016-09-07/2016-09-27)Albanian Institute New York

Albanian Pavilion

Albanian Institute represented the national pavilion of Albania at the inaugural London Design Biennale 2016. The pavilion was organized and curated by Dino Korca. The sculptural environment consisted of concentric arrangement of columns and benches designed to engage with current social changes through and 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.

London Design Biennale 2016 | Somerset House (2016-09-07)Albanian Institute New York

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 Pavilion at London Design Biennale 2016 | Installation view No. 3 (2016-09)Albanian Institute New York

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.

Albanian Pavilion at London Design Biennale 2016 | Installation view No. 1 (2016-09)Albanian Institute New York

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.

Albanian Pavilion at London Design Biennale 2016 (2016-09)Albanian Institute New York

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”.

Albanian Pavilion at London Design Biennale 2016 | Installation view No. 2 (2016-09)Albanian Institute New York

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.

London Design Biennale, The Great Arch Entrance (2016-09) by Bradley Lloyd BarnesAlbanian Institute New York

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.

The Public Medal Award Presentation (2016-09-22) by Bradley Lloyd BarnesAlbanian Institute New York

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. 

Albanian Pavilion at London Design Biennale | Installation view No. 5 (2016-09) by Bradley Lloyd BarnesAlbanian Institute New York

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.

Albanian Pavilion at London Design Biennale | Installation view No. 7 (2016-09-11) by Albanian InstituteAlbanian Institute New York

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: In The Pursuit of Happiness (2016-09-11)Albanian Institute New York

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.”

With over 3 million visitors a year, Somerset House is one of London’s most renowned arts and cultural spaces and has been a centre of debate and discussion since the 18th-century.

Albanian National Participation at the 2016 London Design Biennale (2016-09) by Albanian InstituteAlbanian Institute New York

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.
Photography: Bradley Lloyd Barnes and 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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