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News 26 May 16

Varoufakis Composes Song for Albania's Biennale

The former Greek finance minister has written the lyrics for one of the songs about migration that will form Albania's unusual contribution to the Venice Biennale.

Fatjona Mejdini
BIRN
Tirana
A traditional male group performing iso - poliphonic songs.  Photo: Wikipedia 

Albania will be represented on Thursday at the opening of the Architecture Biennale of Venice in an innovative way.

Instead of presenting visual art, Albania will showcase "iso-polyphony" music sung by four folk groups using lyrics written by Albanians and other international personalities.

The organizers months ago asked 10 personalities - poets, writers, architects and artists - all of whom have experience of migration - to write lyrics about migration - the central topic of the Albanian pavilion during the six months of the biennale.

Their texts have been translated into Albanian and will be sung by folk music groups from Tirana, Himara, Fier and Vlora, thus creating new folk songs.

One of those who wrote lyrics transformed into a folk song for Albania is the well-known anti-austerity economist and former Greek finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis.

One of the curators of the Albanian pavilion, the American architect, Simon Battisti, told BIRN that Varoufakis' text was very personal.

"In the text he tells his own story of being away from home and separated from his daughter, living far away from her," he noted.

"In other cases, we have more general texts about migration, like the case of poet Etel Adnan, who retells the emotional side of being far from your loved-one," he said.

The project that Albania is presenting is called "I Have Left You the Mountain", and it seeks to evoke places and loss through song, displaying the theme of displacement and migration, both of which have been prevalent throughout Albanian history.

"In the Architectural Biennale, you walk down the hallways and what you see are buildings and pictures of cities, but we just wanted for once to explore the emotional side of the physical phenomenon of displacement, which is very present in Albania," Battisti said.

On the other hand, Battisti says the Albanian project wanted also to make a contribution to the wider topic of migration, which is a major issue all over Europe right now.

The songs during the biennale will be played by a record player that is going to play simultaneously on eight channels, to fully give listeners a taste of Albanian traditional iso-polyphony, included in UNESCO's intangible cultural heritage list.

The Albania representation in the biennale is sponsored by the Albanian Ministry of Culture and the project was selected from an open call for proposals at the end of last year.

The Albanian pavilion opens on Thursday and will remain open for the next six months.

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