Petrit Halilaj, for the birds


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The Crystal Palace of the Retiro park it was built in 1887 on the occasion of an exhibition dedicated to the then Spanish colony of the Philippine Islands. The idea was to lift a giant greenhouse in which they could be plants and exotic birds of this archipelago, as well as some specimens of the natives, representatives of different ethnic groups and social. It was built to do this several types of local housing and being brought in household furniture. About forty many inhabitants originating from the Philippines, Caroline and Marianas, were exhibited, along with plants and animals, as a sign of exoticism. Still today can be seen in the Museum of Anthropology some of the relics in the exhibition.

Petrit Halilaj, an artist of Kosovo , who represented his country at the 55th Venice Biennale (2013), and has also taken part in the Berlin (2010) and Lyon (2019). Their work is related, on the one hand, with the interactions between man and Nature and, on the other, with the estrangement of his own nationality, first yugoslavian, then Serbian, then Albanian, and now kosovo. Born in 1986, just twelve years old attended amazed to the terrible events of the war in the former Yugoslavia , which left him marked. Still shows up among surprised and missed belonging to a country to which Spain does not recognize diplomatically. That is why he is interested by the birds (living and dissected), by plants and by the affective relationships between people, trying to find a “human habitation” to the man. That’s why also been recreated in the Crystal Palace a kind of nursery or greenhouse, in the host plants and birds, which invites us to enter and offered to eat.

there Are many artists who have faced the challenge of presenting their work in this environment and many who, by their difficult conditions of exhibition, they have failed there miserably, due to the changes of light and temperature, as well as to the brutal intrusion of the outside into the interior of the building. Halilaj, however, defends excellently in this space, introducing giant colorful flowers that hang from the ceilings , opening the windows to allow it to penetrate your inner life and the exuberance of the park; and turning, by using a subtle metaphor, the gigantic palace in a real cage. Evoking with it, also, the cultural origin of the building.