Deffiant’s Portraits#1-12 , The 5th Thessaloniki Biennale

Anila Rubiku, Deffiants’ Portraits #1-12, 2014, Installation view, Thessaloniki Biennale, © Copyright 2020

23.06.15 – 30.09. 2015
Between the Pessimism of the Intellect and the Optimism of the Will. 
The 5th Thessaloniki Biennial, Thessaloniki, Greece.
Curated by Katherina Gregos.

Defiant’s Portraits#1-12

In Albania domestic aggression against women is considered a personal family matter, and violent husbands are hardly ever brought to court. In some cases desperate wives kill their violent husbands, and –as the courts generally do not acknowledge justifying circumstances– they are consequently sentenced to imprisonment. Anila Rubiku organised workshops with a group of such women in a prison in Tirana and used the art works they made to expose their fate, the lack of protection for vulnerable groups of women, as well as the absence of legal protection. Through these workshops, organised together with a psychologist, the women could express themselves in the form of art works and by narratives about their situation. Based on her experiences with the incarcerated women, Anila Rubiku created a series of artworks in drawings, sculpture and embroidery representing barred windows, each of which represents, in an abstract yet suggestive way, her insight into each of the women’s personalities, culled from the art works and narratives originating from the women themselves. For Rubiku these colourful barred windows represent a true portrait, more of an internal rather than an external likeness.

The embroidered works are laboriously sewn by hand and Anila Rubiku sees the labour time she needed to make them as symbolic of the time that these women have spent behind bars. The barred windows, as well as the act of participating in a creative act by the women themselves, can be seen to express different kinds of hope and are a sign of possible freedom. Some of the bars are impenetrably close to each other, but others have been sawed through, or are bent apart, and thus offer an optimistic prospect of a liberated future.