Albanian Pavilion at London Design Biennale 2016
Referencing utopian city planning, Albanian installation is a concentric arrangement of stainless steel columns and benches encourages both self-reflection and bringing people together.
“Artists have been imagining utopia since the term was coined centuries ago”, says Dino Korca, director of the Albanian Institute New York, and we wanted to create a response to the theme for Albania that “goes beyond aesthetics, appearance or the product alone”, to address and question the individual’s place within society.
The sculpture installation designed by Helidon Xhixha for the courtyard of Somerset House is a circular arrangement of stainless steel benches and columns that surround a central empty space.
The configuration echoes both the radial planning of Renaissance cities and a theory proposed by the French philosopher Louis Marin. Marin believed that every political system was haunted at its centre by utopia, an unconscious and repressed dream of better that occasionally returned to disrupt the present.
Believing our ideas of utopia to be shaped by the problems that face us today, the Albanian design team offer the installation both as a place of self-reflection, and an opportunity to come together with others. The mirrored surfaces of the taller columns capture individual reflections, while also catching those of others, creating myriad opportunities for interaction. The circular layout of the benches aims to facilitate democratic discussion and exchange, demonstrating the need for community and unification in any ideal city. Korca says: “The installation strives to reference a place of harmony between the external and the internal, between the self and the society”.
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. For Korca, 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”.
Sir John Sorrell CBE, President of the Biennale, and Director Dino Korca during the Award ceremony at The Edmond J. Safra Fountain Court, Somerset House, London, United Kingdom.
The Albania Pavilion has been awarded the Public Medal – the national entry with most votes from visitors for the exceptional design contribution to the Biennale!
37 nations from six continents presented newly commissioned works in response to the themeUtopia by Design, taking place at Somerset House in the heart of the British capital.
In a ceremony at Somerset House, the president of the London Design Biennale, Sir John Sorrell CBE, presented Dino Korca with the award congratulating the team behind the the Albanian entry to the Biennale.
On September 8th, the International Jury awarded a number of medals celebrating contribution to design, utopian thinking and innovation at the Biennale. The Jury, a globally representative group of 12 leading creative experts, selected the winners of the medals: the London Design Biennale Medal 2016 (Lebanon), the Utopia Medal (Russia), and the Jaguar Innovation Medal (Switzerland).