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.

Luljeta Lleshanaku, AL

In her poetry, Luljeta Lleshanaku maps what she calls the “negative space” of transitional Albania, which she depicts as an eerie, troubled realm that is nevertheless “always fertile”.

It is an uneven terrain defined by “unsaid gestures”, a fractured domain imbued with traumatic memories that are strangely entangled with everyday objects and experiences.

The poet, who grew up under house arrest during the repressive regime of dictator Enver Hoxha and now works for the Institute for the Studies of Communist Crimes and Consequences in Albania, finds a regenerative force in language itself.

Although language “arrived fragmentary / split in syllables / spasmodic / like code in times of war”, there are, as Lleshanaku points out, other languages to be looked for “after dusk … outside the window”.