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.

Driant Zeneli, RKS

Three iconic brutalist buildings are the setting for Driant Zeneli’s trilogy The Animals. Once upon a time … in the present time: the National Library of Kosovo in Prishtina, the Pyramid of Tirana in Albania and the Post Office in the North Macedonian capital city of Skopje. Poring over what remains of the utopian architectures, each film in the trilogy recounts its own fable in a quest to engender new imaginaries.

Portrayed by futuristic, robotic versions of themselves, the animal protagonists each encounter a formidable antagonist: a flying fish confronts a shark, a dragonfly an octopus, and a firefly a snake. Both the creatures and their stories were developed in a collaborative process that is integral to the artist’s practice.

In part one, he worked with children; in part two, with a former prisoner; and in part three, with engineering students. Common to each new fable is the trope of flight – as a mode of escape, whether from oppression, isolation or entrapment, and as a means of metamorphosis and empowerment.