Alban Muja | Above Everyone
Charim Schleifmühlgasse | 09.09.2023 - 14.10.2023
Opening: Friday, 08. September, 2023 12:00
Works Artists Exhibition Views Press Release
Alban Muja
Exhibition Views
Press Release

Lined up one by one, Alban Muja’s series Above everyone (since 2020) creates an unconventional cityscape. His works focus not on typical landmark buildings but unassuming single-family homes that gracefully ascend above the city’s rooftops. In the aftermath of the Kosovo conflict, an increasing number of Pristina’s residents began appropriating open spaces on existing structures to create homes of their own. These homes, built one or two stories up, largely resemble freestanding houses.


Muja captures the diverse array of these buildings in his watercolours (currently comprising 13 pieces). His play of black and white with colour evokes classical design sketches, where the surroundings of a new building or a renovation are merely sketched out and colour is restrained. He brings attention to the extensions and highlights a paradox: these unauthorised annexations shape Pristina’s cityscape, yet they remain conspicuously absent from official depictions.


During Manifesta 14 in Pristina in 2022, Muja developed the series further through a public intervention. He had a small dwelling placed atop another building, that was visible throughout the exhibition’s duration. A video documented this intervention, recounting the stages of construction up to its completion. This action brought the issue of the existing housing crisis directly into the public eye. His choice of location, atop the 1972 Gërmia shopping centre, carries historical significance. This structure stands as a testament to modern Yugoslavian architecture.3 During the war, it lost its function and has since undergone various uses, with interventions in its facade rendering it barely recognisable to its original form. By making an artistic intervention at this particular site Muja also addresses a recent controversy: it was only recently spared from demolition by public resistance. Emphasising the urgency of an open debate on the future of public buildings, Muja also refers to the original master plan developed in 1972 for the realisation of Gërmia, which envisioned a cultural and artistic hub in the north and northwest surrounding the department store, with a library, a new theatre, and an exhibition space. Ideas for converting the building into a concert hall or a museum thus tie significantly to the history of Gërmia.

- Merle Radtke