The Sun Also Sets, Ongoing project 1989- today.
This work is about three basic and eternal themes. The first is about the hubris of permanence. The notion that what we create now will last forever. The second is about power and how those in power create environments that shape the behaviour and thinking of their citizens. The third is the cyclical nature of time: the sun also rises but it also sets.
The first work is the inspiration for the project. This is Shelly’s poem about Ramesses II, known in Greek as Ozymandias.
Once a great ruler of his known world he created a city and My name is Ozymandias, king of kings;
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’
The words a powerful man who had no conception of his sun ever setting.
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away
However, it’s not just Pharos and Kings and Queens of ancient history that built to their own glory and beliefs modern politicians do so as well.
The locus for these works started by Shelly’s poem is modern day Albania but it could be any country and any cities. Over time power “ebbs and flows” as Brutus says in the play.
Both Tirana and Durres are good examples of the hubris of the powerful but it’s much more than that. From statues to current architecture those in power control what the public space says to the people. It’s not simply a reflection of current power but a determined statement about what to think; the greatest form of power to have. When power changes so does the message. Tirana and Duress are situated in a country that has been at the centre of many civilisations and because they are at a crossroad of power their history has been very fast moving.
The artist has taken similar perspective over time to show how the built environment changed with political power in these two cities. From public squares, to statues to architecture both civic and domestic the artist shows the transformation that has taken place and the significance of it.
It’s true, we think, that the current “power” generation has more of a grasp on time, its cyclical nature and the fact that things will inevitably change; they know this but we aren’t sure they believe it. The underlying desire is to maintain forever the ideology that the lived urban environment represents.
Yes, the sun rises but, alas, it also sets………..on all of us.