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Portrait during a workshop with students of Accademia di Belle Arti in Florence, 2015
|Born||1970 (age 44–45)
Peć, SFR Yugoslavia (present-day Kosovo[a])
|Known for||Contemporary art|
|Notable work||Padiglione Clandestino Albanese (1997); Pleasure our Flower (2000); Again and Again (2000); Y (2011)|
He is represented by Galleria Continua, San Gimignano / Beijing / Le Moulin and BlainSouthern in the United Kingdom.
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.
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:
- Italian Pavilion of the 55th Venice Biennale Vice Versa Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy
- 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa Borderline: Collection Exhibition II, Kanazawa, Japan (2013)
- MADRE Museum of Contemporary Art Donna Reggina Still Untitled, Naples, Italy (2012)
- François Pinault Foundation The World Belongs to You, Palazzo Grassi, Venice, Italy
- Hardau City Park Y, Zürich, Switzerland
- The Power Plant Rearview Mirror, Toronto, Ontario, Canada (2011)
- PRISM Misericordia, West Hollywood, California, United States
- MAXXI Spazio. Dalle collezioni di arte e architettura, Rome, Italy
- Il Museo Privato. La passione per l'arte contemporanea nelle collezioni bergamasche GAMeC, Bergamo, Italy
- 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, Turkey
- MADRE Barock, Naples, Italy (2009)
- Havana Biennial, Havana, Cuba
- Modern Art Oxford Transmission Interrupted, Oxford, England
- Gwangju Biennale, Gwangju, South Korea
- Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit Business As Usual, Detroit, Michigan, United States
- Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt All-Inclusive. A Tourist World, Frankfurt, Germany (2008)
- Istanbul Museum of Modern Art Time Present, Time Past, Istanbul, Turkey
- Göteborg International Biennial for Contemporary Art Rethinking Dissent, Göteborg, Sweden
- Mori Art Museum All About Laughter Humor in Contemporary Art, Tokyo, Japan (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, Seville, Spain
- The Renaissance Society, New Video, New Europe, Chicago, Illinois, United States
- Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, St.Louis, Missouri, United States
- Tate Modern, London, England
- Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands
- North Dakota Museum of Art, Grand Forks, North Dakota, United States
- Fundació 'la Caixa' la Sala Montcada, Barcelona, Spain
- Haifa Museum of Art, Haifa, Israel (2004)
- Palais de Tokyo, Paris, France (2003)
- Gwangju Biennale, Pause, Gwangju, South Korea (2002)
- Istanbul Biennial, Egofugal, Istanbul, Turkey
- Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst (S.M.A.K.), Casino, Ghent, Belgium
- PS1, Uniform, Queens, New York City, New York, United States (2001)
- Manifesta III, Ljubljana, Slovenia
- Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst (S.M.A.K.), Over the Edges, Ghent, Belgium (2000)
- Venice Biennale (1997, 1999 and 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
- "Biennale 2013: Sislej Xhafa", Vogue Italia.
- "Italian Pavilion in the 55th International Art Exposition of the Venice Biennale - Vice versa - The Exhibition Project", 1F mediaproject
- Urs Steiner, Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 2 July 2012.
- Adi Kälin, Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 24 September 2011.
- "The most expensive key I’ve ever owned opens the doors to a world of trash (not that I’m complaining)", Time Out Istanbul, June 12, 2012.
- Smith, Roberta, "Performance Art Gets Its Biennial", The New York Times, November 4, 2005.
- Povoledo, Elisabetta, "Contemporary work has unlikely home", The New York Times, February 21, 2006.
- GENOCCHIO, BENJAMIN. The New York Times, August 3, 2007. "Theater of Cruelty"
- The Free Library by Farlex. Artforum International, May 1, 2001. Openings Sislej Xhafa.
- Povoledo, Elisabetta, "Contemporary work has unlikely home", International Herald Tribune, Tuesday, February 21, 2006.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Sislej Xhafa.|
- "Axis of Silence" a Neon installation, on the Plaine of Plainpalais, Geneva.