Tirana
Suela Qhosja

In a white doll's dress the girl slumps on the black marble tiles, lips smeared grotesquely red, eyes lined in black, a bunch of leaves in her hands. The life-size photograph was one of the eye-catchers in the last Tirana Biennale. Suela Qhosja (25) took her own picture in her living room the day after the girl next door had been taken away by trafickers. 'It could have happened to me,' she says in the garden in front of cinema Millennium. In the shadows next to the fountain the smartly dressed artist keeps on her sunglasses. 'When I was growing up those kind of guys were always hanging round. During the nineties girls like me were disappearing every day. I wanted to show that vulnerability.'

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Because artists in Albania work without subsidy or market, Qhosja lipsynchs children's movies to get by. Her giggle is pure Disney. Her new series of photographs is about a man. 'They are always looking at us. The only thing that interests them is the outside. Now I'm turning it around. It's me who is watching, fascinated and fearful at the same time.' She shows me prints of a boy draped on a sofa, his fingers playing with prayer beads, the light hairs on his chest uncovered, the eyes cruel and lips seductive.

Photography is new to her. Earlier, she made a name for herself with a ten-yard cartoon of the Tirana bus: a crowd of sad, insane or hip passengers bustling behind the windows. She has painted selfportraits with Nietzsche's autograph enscribed on her arm. There are watercolors, woodcarvings, monoprints and installations. 'One Minute' shows a table strewn with hundreds of tiny paper puppets strewn between the wine glasses and snacks. 'In just one minute, everything changed and the Albanians poured into Europe.' In all of its diversity, Qhosja's work shows a mind brimming with imagination, reaching out for whomever might happen to look.

slideshow image for Suela Qhosja



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