Petrit Halilaj, Do you realise there is a rainbow even if it’s night!?, 2023; Qilim Carpet from Kosovo, flokati, polyester, chenille wire, stainless steel, brass; 550 cm × 120 × 60 cm
Recently featured in the film Inside starring Willem Dafoe, Petrit Halilaj’s work Do you realise there is a rainbow even if it’s night!? (2017) was initially conceived for the artist’s exhibition at the 57th Venice Biennale. Wearable as a costume, each large-scale moth was meticulously crafted using traditional fabrics from Kosovo.
Moths have held a significant place in Halilaj’s imagination since his childhood, when he would chase them around the light bulbs hanging in the family home in Kostërrc. They also symbolize the early stages of his artistic career when he was invited to a monographic exhibition at Stacion – Center for Contemporary Art Prishtina in 2009. It was during this time that he stumbled upon the Lepidoptera Collection from the former Museum of Natural History, which had been long abandoned in storage. This discovery sparked a series of works titled Cleopatra, featuring swirling light bulbs that mimicked the movement of insects in the darkness. In 2016, Halilaj collaborated with his mother, Shkurte, to create the first moth costume. He wore it for a performance in which he would walk around a lamp occasionally hiding in the corners of the room, while a voice-over recited a scientific text intertwined with the artist’s own poems about moths.