The installation 14th July? by Kosovar artist Petrit Halilaj marks the kickoff of the Fondation d’entreprise Galeries Lafayette. It will be shown from 24th to 27th, October 2013 in the Fondation d’entreprise Galeries Lafayette’s premises before their complete refurbishment. Petrit Halilaj attracted much notice at the 2013 Venice Biennale, where he represented the Kosovar Pavilion. Now, for the first time, he is showing his work in France.
Echoing his solo exhibition, underway at the WIELS in Brussels, Petrit Halilaj tells of the rediscovery of buried treasures at the Museum of Natural History of Pristina, Kosovo. A popular institution in the former Yugoslavia, that museum was then home to an amazing collection of stuffed animals. The collection was later put away, forgotten and left to rot in a walled-in cellar, replaced by national folklore exhibits.
The film July 14th? takes center stage in the WIELS exhibition. Produced by Fonds de dotation Famille Moulin, Paris, this video installation documents every moment of the prodigious excavation initiated by the artist.
Besides, Petrit Halilaj has manufactured exact copies of some of the stuffed animals, based on documents describing their condition before decay. The ghostly presence of these copper earth phoenixes does carry some political overtones, but mostly conjures up the mythology of the “lost museum”, pointing to the possibility of symbolic rebirth and life for regenerated forms.

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Installation view
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Installation view
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Installation view
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Installation view
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Installation view
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‘Poisoned by men in need of some love(Gallinula chloropus)’, 2013. Iron, cow excrement, soil, glue, 4 brass pieces.