Sislej Xhafa Axis of Silence 2009; Geneva
Peć, SFR Yugoslavia (present day Kosovo[a])
Sislej Xhafa (Albanian: Sislej Xhafa, Serbo-Croatian: Сислеј Џафа, Sislej Džafa') (born 1970 in Peć, SFR Yugoslavia (now Kosovo[a]) is a Kosovar Albanian contemporary artist based in Brooklyn, New York. He is represented by GALLERIA CONTINUA, San Gimignano / Beijing / Le Moulin and BlainSouthern in the UK
Life and works
Xhafa is known for his artistic investigation into social, economical and political realities associated with the various complexities of modern society. He has over the years highlighted his artistic work on economic and social themes, political realities, as they interact with the protean variety of modern society. His investigations, for example, into phenomena of tourism or forced illegality use a minimal language and they are also ironic and subversive, practising indifferently a wide range of media, from sculpture to drawing, and performance to photography.
- “Reality is stronger than art. As an artist I do not want to reflect a reality, but I do want to question it. My social upbringing does not embrace, rational linear actions.I approach the world and life with primal instinctive behaviour”. Interview of Gilane Tawadros with Sislej Xhafa, catalogue of the exhibition “Transmission Interrupted”, Modern Art Oxford, 2009.
- “He is an artist who acts totally and paradoxically in a Duchampian spirit, without sharing his indifference though.”Achile Bonito Oliva, ABO, Dialoghi d’Artista, 2008 SKIRA.
The social results of economic theories, and the conceptual outcome deriving from complex relations, have long been at the heart of Xhafa’s artistic research. It questions the legal status of his place of origin, Kosovo, and he presents himself as the Clandestine Pavilion at the Venice Biennale; or in the shoes of a broker who does not sell shares but buys and sells the departures and arrivals of trains in the performance “Stock Exchange”. In a square in Turin, he sets up a temporary job centre which in reality is a type of stage set; in New York, he reflects on the concept of security and stability, and in Manhattan he gets a truck of the 1950s full of young lawyers to go up the main road as they recite aloud the page of the yellow pages under the entry “Lawyers”.
“It’s a politics of interruption, upsetting the configuration of forces determining what is visible and what is not, what forms of speech are understood as discourse and which are only perceptible as noise, who is designated as a speaking subject and who is merely spoken to”. Jacob Proctor, Playing Prisoner’s Dilemma – Iniside the world of Sislej Xhafa in «Bidoun», #11, Summer 2007
Xhafa has exhibited widely including at the Italian Pavilion of the 55th Venice Biennale Vice Versa Venice Biennale, Venice; 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art Kanzawa Borderline: Collection Exhibition II Kanazawa, Japan (2013); MADRE Museum of Contemporary Art Donna Reggina Still Untitled, Napoli (2012); François Pinault Foundation The World Belongs to You, Palazzo Grassi, Venice; Hardau City Park Y, Zürich; The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery Rearview Mirror, Toronto (2011); PRISM Misericordia West Hollywood, California; MAXXI Spazio. Dalle collezioni di arte e architettura Roma; Il Museo Privato. La passione per l’arte contemporanea nelle collezioni bergamasche GAMeC Bergamo; Röda Sten 2705 Baci… Göteborg (2010), MART Rovereto; Museo di Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Trento e Rovereto, Language and Experimentations; PAC Padiglione d'Arte Contemporanea, Milano Ibrido. Genetica delle forme; DEPO Indefinite Destinations Istanbul; MADRE Barock, Napoli (2009); Havana Biennial, Havana, Cuba; Modern Art Oxford Transmission Interrupted; Biennale of Gwangju, Gwangju, Korea ; MOCAD Museum of Contemporary Art of Detroit Business As Usual; Schirn Kunsthalle All-Inclusive. A Tourist World Frankfurt (2008); Istanbul Museum Of Modern Art Time Present, Time Past, Istanbul; Göteborg International Biennial for Contemporary Art Rethinking Dissent, Göteborg, Sweden; Mori Art Museum All About Laughter Humor in Contemporary art Tokyo (2007); PERFORMA05 performance biennial New York (2005); I Bienal de Arte Contemporáneo de Sevilla, Fundación BIACS, La alegria de mis sueños, Monasterio la Cartuja de Santa María de las Cuervas, Sevilla; The Renaissance Society, New Video, New Europe, Chicago; Museum of Contemporary Art, St.Louis; Tate Modern, London; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, North Dakota Museum of Art, Grand Forks; Fundació ‘la Caixa’ la Sala Montcada, Barcelona; Haifa Museum of Art, Israel (2004), Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2003), Gwangju Biennial, Pause, Gwangju, (2002); Istanbul Biennial, Egofugal, Istanbul; S.M.A.K., Casino, Gent; PS1, Uniform, New York (2001); Manifesta III, Ljubljana, Slovenia, S.M.A.K., Over the Edges, Gent (2000); and the Venice Biennale (1997,1999 & 2005).
- Hardau City Park Y, Zürich; Supported by City of Zürich, ZHDK and IFCAR 2009-2011 
- "Axis of Silence" in collaboration with Contemporary Art Fund of the City and Canton of Geneva (Fmac and FCAC) Plaine de Plainpalais; Geneva 2008
- Fondazione Pistoletto, Biella 2001
- Fondazione Querini Stampalia, Premio Querini- Furla per l’Arte, Venice 2000
- Onufri National Gallery, Tirana 1999
- http://www.nytimes.com/2005/11/04/arts/design/04smit.html Smith, Roberta. The New York Times, November 4, 2005. Performance Art Gets Its Biennial
- http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9907E1D61431F930A3575BC0A9619C8B63 GENOCCHIO, BENJAMIN. The New York Times. August 3, 2007. "Theater of Cruelty"
- http://www.thefreelibrary.com/OPENINGS+SISLEJ+XHAFA-a075914284 The Free Library by Farlex. Artforum International, May 1, 2001. Openings Sislej Xhafa.
- http://www.iht.com/articles/2006/02/21/features/povo.php Povoledo, Elisabetta (International Herald Tribune). Tuesday, February 21, 2006. Contemporary work has unlikely home
- "Axis of Silence" a Neon installation, on the Plaine of Plainpalais, Geneva.