Anri Sala Germany
The visual arts come to us through many different expressions and guises, from aesthetic representations of beauty to examinations of existential nature and sometimes as political commentaries on the living conditions that surround us.
Anri Sala is a practitioner of the latter. Many contemporary artists around the globe work with sociopolitical or geopolitical subjects, but often in a conceptual casing that gives us a multi-layered experience. That which first appears to be mundane and uncontroversial may instead contain a charged core of strong criticism. In Anri Sala’s case, this core is a drum i konsthallen that seems to be alive, tapping out sounds with its drumsticks to form a rhythm. The drum is of course not actually alive. A small machine inside it creates vibrations that make the drumsticks strike the drumhead.The vibrations is av voice reading the names of 43 students that “disappeared” in Mexico 2014 without explanations from the authorities.
The subversive political core of another of his works was expressed most effectively when Anri Salla exhibited it in Tel Aviv, Israel. The vibrations then became the sound of a news broadcast listing the names of Palestinian children killed in the Gaza conflict. The dead children thus make themselves felt through the sound of a drum. In conflicts the world over, it is the children who pay the highest price. Anri Sala wants to make sure we don’t forget this. To give a suggestive voice to those who have been silenced for protesting against their living conditions or for just being unfortunate enough to fall into the path of an outbreak of violence.
Anri Sala is from Albania, a country that was under the Soviet sphere of power from the end of WWII to the early 1990s. Being critical during this time also meant upholding the façade of one official truth. Saying the forbidden was only possible if you said it using the language of those in power.
In Anri Sala’s work, the drum sounds through the public silence. Here, it becomes more than just a drum. It becomes a political megaphone.