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Louisiana Contemporary

Anri Sala

2.11.2012 - 3.2.2013

Today music is a regular feature of our everyday life. We listen to music of our choice with or without earphones, as accompaniment to work, jogging or as part of the aural backdrop in public space, in shops and on the street. Music can exclude other sounds, set the pace or put us in a particular mood.

The Albanian-born artist Anri Sala (1974) is aware of this. He knows what music can do to us. And to a narrative – our own or the one he presents. He knows that we will sense something, feel something when the music is turned up.He knows that music is physical and that sound waves affect us physically – we can’t turn away or shut them out. That is why Sala says quite accurately that his films are like sculptures.

Anri Sala demonstrates a particular way of using music. One of the things that interest the artist is the process of musical creation. It is the intention – the moment of genesis – that is in focus and forms a strong strand in Sala’s work.

Louisiana Contemporary is supported by Nykredit


Louisiana Channel interview with Anri Sala about his working methods and two of his masterpieces Answer Me (2008) and 1395 Days Without Red (2011) – latter a history about a woman on her way through the streets of Sarajevo during the occupation of the city under the civil war in the 1990s.


For many years now, Anri Sala has worked mainly with film. Besides the moving pictures in Sala’s films, the aural universe is very much a part of the experience of sensed time.

A physical experience that makes us feel the emotions lived out by the saxophonist in Long Sorrow or the intense drama experienced by the woman in 1395 Days without Red on her way through the streets of Sarajevo. The exhibition presents four films that range musically from jazz improvisation to popular music and classical music.

The saxophonist’s improvisation, the rehearsal of the symphony orchestra, the response of the drummer, etc. But music also has a structuring function. In several of Sala’s works we experience a more formal approach to the use of music, where the works relate to the rhythm or temporal structuring also found in music: tempo, measure, repetition, rhythm, but also silence and the pause, are all musical elements that concern the artist and hold both visual and aural meaning.

The use of music opens up a universe of understanding free of linguistic constraints. The works shown here are on the whole non-verbal, although they are full of stories. Not transparent stories, though. The works are characterized by a non-narrative structure where a certain absence of information leaves the disoriented viewer with the job of assembling all the pieces into a meaning.

Thematically, Anri Sala’s works encompass both political awareness and an interest in human relations, and you always feel that the material content of his works is rooted in personal experience – social, political or private, although it is only felt as a subtle background.

Anri Sala was born in Albania in 1974, studied in France and now lives in Berlin. Sala has exhibited internationally since he participated in the European contemporary art biennale Manifesta 3, in 2000.

In 2013 he will be representing France at the Venice Biennale.