Klodian Deda

The interest of his work, Klodian tells me, is the human being as an object and subject. Indeed, the human is quite often present in his work, whether implied or imaginary. One of his most powerful pieces (I think) is Nomadic (2008), which was presented as part of the ArtKontakt Festival in 2008. The title refers to all human beings, who wander and roam about this earth, looking for a place, whether near or far. The artist used chairs to represent this wandering. At first, this seemed ironic to me. A chair, after all, is something that is stable and solid. Unless it has wheels, it doesn’t move. It does, however, have legs. And the artist has used the chair because it immediately implies a human presence. What else, after all, is it there for, other than for a human being to sit in? This tension between sitting and moving, present and absent, is precisely what I think makes this work so compelling.

Another piece that gives this sense of both presence and absence is Reflection in the Park. Klodian commented on the fact that parks are hardly used any more for their original purpose, quite often they are empty or abandoned, no longer gathering places for people. In this work he populates a city park with people, or the semblance of people, by dressing the trees in used clothing. Once again, the tree is a solid, staid, immobile object, yet is dressed like a human being that could suddenly walk away. While in some ways this work brings the park to life, it also marks the absence of people in the park, because the clothes do not cover a human being beneath that can laugh and scream and skip away.

XXXL is more than what it appears, at first glance. At first glance it is a gigantic bra strapped onto an old building. But, as its title might suggest, it is much more than that. The building is located in Venice, and is part of a cultural center for young artists. The city was planning on demolishing these old buildings to develop the area into a fancy hotel. XXXL was Klodian’s artistic protest and statement of solidarity with the artists, who wanted to keep the building for themselves. What else does a bra do, but support? In placing the bra on the building, Klodian offers his support for his fellow artists. A bra is also something private, which hides something even more private, and for these artists, this private space was very dear to them, and, in their view, not the business of the city authorities to invade and violate. Like the chairs, the empty bra also suggests a human absence, and what might be lost if the building is destroyed.

XXXL was an intervention into a situation over which the artists felt they had little control, and control is something that the artist tries to give to his viewers in Semafor. At the entrance to the gallery space, the artist placed a traffic light. The light shines red, and the viewer must push the button to get a green light to go into the gallery. What he or she does also impacts on the person behind, as that person will have to wait to go through the door after the person ahead does so. There is a similar traffic light at the exit to the gallery. On the one hand, the artist gives his viewers the controls – literally; it is you who gets to push the button. On the other hand, however, it is also the artist who tells you that you have to push the button. So you have control, and yet you don’t. But at the end of the day, you could choose to ignore the light, and the artist, altogether, and just go through the door. It is a situation that resembles everyday life to a T. We are constantly in situations where we feel that we have control only because we have been bestowed a semblance of control by the powers that be. (Think of the placebo buttons that are often places at crossings where the lights change regularly anyway, and pushing the button actually has no effect). We always have the choice to ignore the rules, but we have to accept the consequences (with Klodain’s work, however, there were no consequences – I think he is too nice!).

What attracts me to the work of Klodian Deda is its beautiful complexity beneath a surface of seeming simplicity. His work first appeals visually – a cluster of chairs over an archway, a bunch of dressed up trees, a big bra – but then once you delve further into the work it only becomes more complex and not only visually, but also intellectually, appealing.