Manifesta purposely strives to keep its distance from what are often seen as the dominant centres of artistic production, instead seeking fresh and fertile terrain for the mapping of a new cultural topography.

Genti Korini, AL

An artist and a critic wind their way around each other in a labyrinthine modernist ruin. Enmeshed in an intricate interrogation of modernism, strangely resonant of contemporary discourse, the two adversaries pit realism against abstraction and the socialist “new man” against “his” bourgeois degenerate counterpart. Their contrary lines of thought stem from the mind of one and the same person: the Albanian art historian Alfred Uçi.

His excoriating critique of modernist aesthetics, Labyrinths of Modernism, published in 1978, helped enshrine the doctrine of socialist realism in socialist Albania. It assisted the persecution of countless artists perceived to deviate from its dictates. Genti Korini juxtaposes a neo-noir staging of Uçi’s interior dialogue with a secret service file that denounces an artist for his aesthetics.

Korini draws on the modernist trope of the artist as spider, as a weaver of illusions, a creature as admired for its creativity as it is despised for its treachery. Yet who is the spider and who is the prey? And who entraps whom in which deceit?