The first impression that I got of Ledia Kostandini’s work was that it is fun. Consisting of bright colors (lots of pink!), funny interventions into the landscape and innovative uses of space, her art is a joy to look at and engage with. And engagement is precisely what the artist is after. She does not merely alter or add to the surrounding space, but she connects with its users, involving them in the process of creating her art. In a sense, it aims not only to be participatory, but also didactic. For example, one project involved planting a series of cut-out figures into peoples’ gardens or yards in the rural countryside. The cut-outs looked like the backs of peoples' legs and butts, bent over, the way a human body would appear to stick out of the landscape and pop up over the horizon if one were working in the garden. In order to create this work, she had to ask the owners of the gardens if she could plant her butts there. To do that, in many cases she had to explain not only what her project was, but what art was. One person, she reported, even asked her: “what’s an artist?” Ledia’s colorful butts not only made a comical addition to the landscape of rural Albania, but also brought art to its people, quite literally, not only by showing them, but explaining it to them. This would be a difficult task in most rural areas anywhere, given that what most people understand to be art involves studio painting or sculpture. So Ledia not only had to explain what art is, but what contemporary, participatory and installation art involves as well.
If you walk around Tirana long enough you will come across another kind of installation art: masses, piles and conglomerations of electrical wires strewn across city streets, sidewalks, walls and telephone poles. To some they may seem normal, to me they seemed scary (at least at first, not being used to such things), but to Ledia, they seemed like an opportunity. The artist is aware of the transitory nature of things that surround her, and the random elements of the everyday world. So she seeks to transform them into something else – from a plain cement block to a domino, from a sidewalk brick to an airmail envelope, from an uncovered switch breaker to a decorative tray that she can use to present to you the energy contained therein.
She describes her work as a “journey,” a diary of all of her travels, be it throughout the world, or through her own city or country. Encountering new things along they way, she personalizes them, changes them, creates something different so that you, the viewer, has the opportunity to see something different, something new. Ledia commented that artists have become distanced from their public, and with her work she aims to bridge that gap. It is not only her playful and heartwarming contributions to the surrounding landscape that achieves this goal, but the way in which she involves the viewer in her game, enabling them to play along with her.