It is difficult to know where to begin to describe Lume’s work. Upon meeting
her I was overwhelmed with her strong personality, her energy and enthusiasm.
Lume was trained as a painter, and only later (recently) started working in
performance, installation and mixed media. She said that she always felt this
performative impulse (and it becomes evident upon meeting her that this is
intrinsic to her personality), but was unable to realize any work of that type
under the communist regime. In Albania, unlike in many other communist
countries in Eastern Europe, there was no real underground movement where
artists experimented with other genres. Instead, artists simply had to wait.
One of Lume’s more interesting performances (I think) was a meal that she
cooked for her friends – fried frogs. This is, apparently, not uncommon cuisine in
Albania. Lume said that she was cooking the frogs one day and noticed that,
while in the frying pan, they came to take on suggestive poses. Hence the title
– Kama Sutra Kitchen. The performance involved the cooking of the frogs and the
consumption of them at a dinner party with friends. One version of this
performance took place in the National Gallery of Arts in Albania in 2003, and another at the Porto Palermo Castle in Southern Albania. The
documentation of the performance includes photographs of the dinner party
itself, as well as several different ‘poses’ by the frying frogs.
Lume has also engaged with the burgeoning consumer market in Albania,
creating an installation from supermarket flyers and advertisements, where she
covered the walls of the gallery space with the ads. She also created a dress
from the top-up cards for AMC and Vodafone cell phone providers. These cards
appeared everywhere with the advent of cell phones in Albania, altering the
visual landscape of everyday life.
Lume is interested in creating art that has a strong connection with real life. It is for that reason that she chooses the things around her to mold into her artwork – for example, the dried orange peels in her kitchen that began to take on the shape of human forms, which she then preserved in photographs. Her advertisement installation, entitled Okazion (Bargain ), so closely straddled the border between art and life that visitors appeared at the gallery expecting a liquidation sale in a shop! Lume emphasizes that her work is spontaneous, and that she wants the viewer to feel something or react emotionally to her work. For an artist with so much vigor in everyday life, this is a task that is quite effortlessly accomplished by Lume Blloshmi.