Broken Threads


Dyslexic thoughts – text by Anri Sala

Fani Zguro’s Broken Threads (2007) juxtaposes black and white shots from an Albanian spy movie with the dark tune of a murder ballad by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds.

In the film – Fijet që Priten (1973), which also translates as broken threads – foreign agents and their local infiltrators conspire to destabilize the new Albanian society and undermine its achievements on the socialist path.

Assembling all the scenes in the film depicting the foreign agents, Zguro produces a collage of hip looks and western airs, fur coats and dark shades, incarnating what was then publicly demonized, but privately longed for. Wedded to the dark voice of Nick Cave, the sequel evokes a recollection of hushed penchants and covert desires. Naturally, Cave’s demeanor bolsters the villains’ badass aura.

In their song The Curse of Millhaven (1996), Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds portray the gloomy atmosphere of a fictitious American small town, as told by Loretta, a homicidal 15-year-old girl. The song is a distant upshot of roots revival, a trend that grew global in the ’60s and ’70s as it instilled a particular political expression and urgency in rock songs by incorporating folk elements or gory stories into their structures. Yet, the demonic ambiance in The Curse of Millhaven incites more withdrawal than rebellion. And its narrative amusingly befits the communist propaganda about decrepit life and disaffection on the dark side of the capitalist moon.

In a loose adaptation of Dostoyevsky’s Demons, Jean-Luc Godard touches on what could be seen as a reversed context. In his film La Chinoise (1967), five disgruntled Parisian youngsters, distressed by the escalation of American imperialism and society’s surrender to consumerism, convene in a bourgeois apartment to bring about change by revolutionary means.

I see similarities between the revolutionary five and the imperialist spies, not only between their poseur airs and hip style (or their fetish for sunglasses), but also their zealous predilection to disrupt and overthrow. Despite their antagonist aspirations, there is an affinity between the glum setting of Fijet që Priten and “it’s small and it’s mean and it’s cold” Millhaven. Regardless of their apparent differences, the fiery Véronique (played by Anne Wiazemsky in La Chinoise), reciting from the Little Red Book, echoes the hurting Loretta enumerating her murders through Cave’s beguiling timbre. They both exude a mood of To be on your own / With no direction home. United in their versatility, the aforementioned juxtapositions expose en passant the revolving nature of the end of ideological eras, as well as the fallacies of their zeitgeists.

Because the world is round it turns me on
Because the world is round*

… it takes blindfolded precision to slip through history’s cycles, without asking yourself Because.

* The Beatles, Because (1969)

Fani Zguro was born in 1977 in Tirana. Lives and works in Tirana, Milan and Berlin. Zguro was graduated at Accademia delle Belle Arti di Brera in Milan (1998–2007). In 2007 he won the International Onufri Prize by National Gallery of Arts in Tirana; in 2016 the International Mulliqi Prize by the National Gallery of Kosovo in Prishtina and Best Video-Art by TIFF. Zguro was part of the program AiR 2017 at Q21 -Museumsquartier in Vienna. He has exhibited at Haus der Kulturen der Welt Berlin, National Museum of Contemporary Art Bucharest, Musée des Civilisations de l’Europe et de la Mediterranee Marseille, Filmoteca Espanola Madrid, Photo Museum Braunschweig, 2nd Tirana Biennale, 3rd Mardin Biennale, 4th Young Artists Biennale of Bucharest, Ludwig Museum Budapest, Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art Rijeka, Public Library New York and Centre Pompidou Paris.

website: Fani Zguro

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