One step forward, two steps backwards

One step forward, two steps backwards
Hannah Weinberger in collaboration with Bleta Jahaj, Flaka Jahaj

20 December 2013 - 1 February 2014
Opening: 20 December 2013 at 20:00

It’s neither a solo nor a group thing. The exhibition, or let’s say the set, present the work as well as the specific approach of the artists Hannah Weinberger and Bleta Jahaj, based in Basel and Zurich, and Flaka Jahaj, a fashion designer based in Basel and London.

The title of the exhibition One step forward, two steps backwards can be understood as a statement. They don’t use the title as the Russian communists revolutionary Lenin did, when he wrote on the crisis in his party, they much more refer to the simple idea of rhythm but also create a reference to movement and partnership. The exhibition, which they worked out in close collaboration, presents works of art as well as objects, furniture, or sound. From the beginning the three of them never had the intention to present their own work next to the work of the other. It was much more the idea to stand together and to work it out as a group of federates.

Of course we find comparisons in history as well as in popular culture if we consider the group of three as an important element here. Let’s start with the three Graces, a unique example of history. The presentation of these three goddesses – “Splendor,” “Mirth,” and “Good Cheer” – in art is an often-used motif and refers to the beauty of the three as daughters of Zeus and Eurynome. In Christian tradition it was the “Three Kings” or “Three Wise Men,” distinguished foreigners with the ability of reading the stars and knowing the signs. Now we skip some years and look at some examples from 19th and 20th century. Here we find the stories of “The Three Musketeers”, a work by Alexandre Dumas, telling us about the adventures of these inseparable friends who live by the motto: “all for one, one for all.” And finally we look at Charlie’s Angels, a TV format by Ivan Goff and Ben Roberts from 1976. We learn about these three extraordinary women working for a private detective agency. And here we’re talking only about examples of strong, wise, beautiful, and smart groups of three. Maybe we already understand what a group of friends is capable of or can cause.

What history and culture defined as extraordinary people that spend not only time together but defined their life by collaboration is shown and repeated now in this exhibition at Stacion – Center for Contemporary Art Prishtina and refers to a simple but also complex idea of friendship or family. The use of forms and colors, the body – as instrument and measure – as well as artistic practice to engage with the space is used to create a set or stage design that can be understood as platform for exchange. To that effect the space becomes a center of collaboration, an instrument that gathers the thoughts of three artists and invites the others to spend their time in it. 

Referring to the title of the exhibition that has this certain negativity we need to look back to closely understand the approach of the artists. In 2012, in Hannah Weinberger’s first solo exhibition at Kunsthalle Basel, she used the title When You Leave, Walk Out Backwards, So I’ll Think You’re Walking In for her show. Walking two steps back and one step forward you actually will make progress. It is neither about leaving nor about stopping progress. The exhibition of Flaka Jahaj, Bleta Jahaj, and Hannah Weinberger at Stacion – Center for Contemporary Art Prishtina invites people of different sensitivity and aims to show what movement actually means and how you in person can decide what way you take or in what way you plan to engage with your society to make a change.
Fabian Schoeneich

Bleta Jahaj (*1981) lives and works in Zurich, CH. She is studying at the Master in Fine Arts program in the Zurich University of the Arts. Bleta works in a variety of soft to hard natural and synthetic Materials: clean glass, white, brown, blank latex, marble, concrete, plastics, knotted, knitted rubber, casted silk, tangled wire. In careful but surprising ways, she molds incongruous materials, often making their formal properties almost contradictions of themselves. Geometry seems to disintegrate away from formalization of modular precision in a whimsical and disarming manner.

Flaka Jahaj (*1983) lives and works in Zurich, CH and London, UK. She is currently finishing her MA in Fashion at the University of London Central Saint Martins after studying in Paris. As assistant she worked among others for Rick Owens Studio.

Hannah Weinberger (*1988) lives and works in Basel, Switzerland. She completed her master's degree in fine arts at Zurich University of the Arts. Recent solo exhibitions include, 'Le Moi Du Toi', Swiss Institute, New York;'Concerto Locale', Istituto Svizzero, Milan; 'When You Leave, Walk Out Backwards, So I‘ll Think You‘re Walking In', Kunsthalle Basel (all 2012). Her work has been exhibited internationally, including the 2013 Lyon Biennale, ICA Philadelphia, Kunsthal Charlottenborg, Kunstverein Munich, and Kunsthuas Glarus, and has been written about in international art publications including Artforum, Frieze and Afterall. She co-runs the project space Elaine at the Museum für Gegenwartskunst Basel, and is a residing board member of the Kunsthalle Basel.

One step forward, two steps backwards at Stacion - Center for Contemporary Art Prishtina is part of ‘Rethinking (Social) Space Program’ and is supported by The Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia, Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports of the Republic of Kosovo, Ministry of European Integration of the Republic of Kosovo, Directorate for Culture, Youth and Sports of the Municipality of Prishtina and DZG.