Forget Me Not 2020–21 by Petrit Halilaj and Alvaro Urbano

27 May, 2021

The 3rd Autostrada Biennale, together with the 5th Annual Kosovo Pride Week, the National Library of Kosovo “Pjetër Bogdani”, and in partnership with Manifesta 14 Prishtina, is proud to present:
Forget Me Not 2020–21
by Petrit Halilaj and Alvaro Urbano
Opening June 30th
On view 1st July – 11th September 2021
Forget Me Not is an installation of large fabric flowers site-specifically installed under the cupola of the National Library of Kosovo “Pjetër Bogdani”, an archive of collective memory and knowledge. Each flower in the constellation-be it forsythia, palm seeds, cherry blossom, quince, or carnation-embodies, alongside the flowers’ monumental beauty, an archival connotation from the artists’ personal histories and relations. They also demarcate where personal memory, the lived experience within, carries the potential to progressively rewrite and re-form the collective one. The flowers stand for all forms of love, desire, intimacy, kinship, and identity, but especially for those that are constantly neglected or repressed by regressive politics and social norms.
“Bringing these flowers to Prishtina, for us, is a celebration of nonconformity, a vision for change, an invitation to dream, a call for diversity.”
-Petrit Halilaj and Alvaro Urbano
“Art voices the desire for deep societal transformation, allowing us to connect micro to macro perspectives. We are thrilled to present Petrit Halilaj and Alvaro Urbano’s installation, which tenderly gives desires and needs a poetic form.”
-curators of the 3rd Autostrada Biennale, Joanna Warsza and Övül Ö. Durmuşoğlu
Forget Me Not reinforces the Kosovar civic campaign for equal rights, particularly for the LGBTQI+ community, which demands that the new civil code includes the right to marry. It empowers the campaign with floral beauty – now also as its official image. The flowers will be on view beginning on the 30th of June, 2021, at the National Library in Prishtina, a stunning building of ninety-nine domes, full of natural light, merging traditional styles with a modernist expression.
Petrit Halilaj was born in 1986 in Kosterrc, Kosovo, and grew up between Kosovo and Italy. Alvaro Urbano was born in 1983 in Madrid, Spain. The artists – a couple – live and work in Berlin. In recent years, Halilaj and Urbano have created numerous environments, situations, and performances that touch on topics of coexistence or the negotiations between a built environment and nature through the lens of their own relationship. The flowers have been previously installed at the Crystal Palace of the Museo de Reina Sofía in Madrid (2020), Art Quadriennale in Rome (2020), and at Berghain in Berlin (2020), where the artists first met years ago.
Forget Me Not and Agnes Denes’s Sunflower Fields are two public city projects in Prishtina presented by the 3rd Autostrada Biennale in collaboration with Manifesta 14 Prishtina.
Forget Me Not and Agnes Denes’s Sunflower Fields are supported by Prishtina Municipality and Swiss Cooperation Office Kosovo.
Photo credit: Petrit Halilaj & Alvaro Urbano, 2nd of December 2015 (Palm seeds), 10th of May, 2016 (Cherry), 5th of September 2017 (Carnation), 2020, Courtesy: the artists, ChertLüdde, Berlin; kamel mennour, Paris; Travesia Cuatro, Madrid. Produced by Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, photo: ImagenSubliminal