Si Okarina e Runikut, 2022

The series Si Okarina e Runikut is composed of several sculptural objects created from clay and brass, modeled in the form of an ancient wind instrument found in the archaeological zone of Runik, where the artist’s family lived for several years. Similar to ocarinas, these instruments hark back to the prehistoric origins of music and relate to the Neolithic period, which we can only assess through objects in the contemporary era.

For the works in this series, Halilaj learned the technique of crafting ocarinas from Shaqir Hoti, one of the last people to make and play these traditional musical instruments. Halilaj incorporated new elements in these ocarinas: slender brass tubes with the dual function of providing precariously-seeming support, and serving as a mouthpiece that allows the instrument to generate sound. Simple, light elements are juxtaposed with the rough, material appearance of the ocarinas, in this way connecting modernity and antiquity. Operating and manipulating the functionality of the object, Halilaj transforms the object from the personal to the choral, suggesting the participation of several people.

Photos by Marjorie Brunet Plaza.