Anri Sala was born in 1974, in Tirana, Albania. He studied painting at the National Academy of Arts in Tirana from 1992 to 1996, receiving a BA; video at the École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs in Paris from 1996 to 1998; and film directing at Le Fresnoy, Studio National des Arts Contemporains, in Tourcoing, France, from 1998 to 2000. At the 1999 Venice Biennale, Sala presented Intervista—Finding the Words (1998), a video in which Sala is seen confronting his mother with old footage of her participating in a Communist rally during Albania’s traumatic past. The video Nocturnes (1999) also features interviews, this time with a fish collector and a mercenary, who tell stories of their lives, which are remarkably different at the outset but bear an uncanny similarity in the end.
More recently, Sala has produced videos based on repetition: Uomoduomo (2001) features a loop of an old man nodding...off in the Milan cathedral, while Time After Time (2003) shows the repeated reaction of a dying horse standing in the dark of night along an Albanian motorway as cars zoom by. In the video Ghostgames (2002), Sala follows two individuals as they play a game with a ghost crab on a pitch-black North Carolina beach. Lit from above with a small spotlight, the crustacean tries to escape the brightness, scampering in front of, around, and over their naked feet. Dammi i Colori (2003) captures the vivid, multicolored facades of buildings in the artist’s hometown (the location is never explicitly mentioned in the work). Subtitles discuss the social and psychological role of color in restoring hope in economically depressed Albania. In his video Làkkat (2004), Sala filmed three Senegalese children repeating words and expressions, in their native Wolof, most of which address concepts of “light” and “dark.” The scene itself takes places in the dark, the subjects appearing almost as silhouettes. The silent double video projection After Three Minutes (2007) isolates the hypnotic visual quality of a cymbal filmed under a strobe light from its characteristically dominant sound associations; the second projection, now juxtaposed with the first, is the result of Sala having re-filmed the first video with a security camera while it was installed at the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin.
Sala has had solo shows at the Dallas Museum of Art (2002), Kunsthalle Wien in Vienna (2003), the Musée d’art moderne de la Ville de Paris (2004), Art Institute of Chicago (2004), Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam (2005), and the Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami (2008), among others. He has also participated in many group shows, including the Venice Biennale (1999, 2001, and 2003), Manifesta (2000 and 2002), Berlin Biennial (2001), São Paulo Biennial (2002), Istanbul Biennial (2003), and Sydney Biennial (2006). He has received Best Documentary Film awards at the Entrevues Belfort film festival in Belfort, France (1998); the International Documentary Film Festival in Santiago de Compostela, Spain (1999); and the Williamsburg Brooklyn Film Festival (2000); as well as the Silver Award at the New York Expo of Short Film and Video (1999); the Prix Gilles Dusein (2000); and the Young Artist Prize at the Venice Biennale (2001). Sala was a finalist for the Hugo Boss Prize in 2002. He lives and works in Berlin.
Text extracted from Guggenheim: https://www.guggenheim.org/artwork/artist/anri-sala