Vacation Visit, 2021–23 - Autostrada Biennale

Vacation Visit, 2021–23

Artist: Núria Güell

Venue: Hangar 2

In 2013, Núria Güell staged a hide-and-seek game in the harbor of Gothenburg, Sweden, with an asylum seeker from Kosovo, a former policewoman named Maria. Maria was in the process of applying, for the third time, for permission to stay in Sweden. A contract was issued by the Gothenburg Biennial in both Swed-ish and Albanian—Maria and the biennale’s artistic director Edi Muka’s mother tongue. The employment contract with the art organization was made in consultation with activists and was structurally helpful in procuring Maria’s residency permit. In the hide-and-seek game, which took place during the exhibition, Maria was always the one hiding, while visitors were always the ones searching. The play almost always finished with an in-depth dialogue about migration policy, political asylum, integra-tion, and displacement, turning the game into a conversation piece. The project, organized in the framework of the seventh Gothenburg Biennial, curated by Joanna Warsza, was revisited in 2021, on the other side of the road, in the place that Maria—whose real name is Lumnije Gërguri Stojkaj—comes from. Güell and Gërguri Stojkaj spent a short vacation in Prizren, walking, visiting, and talking during the 3rd Autostrada Biennale. Ques-tions arose: What is the relationship between the artist and her subject today? How best to see and work with unequal relations in collaborative projects, especially around migration issues? What are some ethical ways of addressing asymmetries in art? How does Gërguri Stojkaj see art as part of her journey to Sweden, where she now works as a prison guard? On their vacation in Prizren, both women talked about homeland, exile, ethnicity, war, cultural identity, and landscapes of the past. Today, many of the questions remain, while Güell and Gërguri Stojkaj enjoy their “vacation visit.”

Núria Güell (1981) was born in Vidreres and lives and works in Barcelona.

Text by Joanna Warsza

Photo credits Tuğhan Anıt

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