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Transmedia Memory of Albanian Migration in Italy: Helidon Gjergji's, Adrian Paci's, and Anri Sala's Moving-Image Installations


In this essay I analyze how, within the space of the museum, recent media installations by Albanian artists Helidon Gjergji, Adrian Paci, and Anri Sala appropriate, and critically engage with, multiple narratives about migration in Italy produced and circulated over the past two decades across various media, with particular attention to the Albanian case. The imaginary and material sites the spectator traverses in Gjergji’s, Paci’s, and Sala’s installations open up space for a new audiovisual discourse, one that is still indebted to, and yet distinct from, the televisual and the cinematographic, as it emerges from the double relationship between on-screen and off-screen space, as well as between collective and personal history. Installation in the museum thus produces a transmedia memory, which simultaneously criticizes the televisual reality effect as well as Italian progressive representations of the Albanian migrant as a screen onto which Italians can project their own history of emigration, as is the case with Oliviero Toscani’s advertising campaign Boat for Benetton (1992) and Gianni Amelio’s feature film Lamerica (1994). Drawing on the scholarship on self-reflexive spectatorship by Elizabeth Cowie and Catherine Fowler, among others, I analyze how these Albanian artists invite the spectator to explore the virtual space on screen, the material space off screen, and the screen itself as an object, in order to prompt a different identification with the migrant figure in Italy.

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