Petrit Halilaj and Alvaro Urbano have each made their own mark on the international scene, before bringing their work together in 2014. Petrit Halilaj is a graduate of the Brera Academy of Fine Arts in Milan. His work is deeply linked to the history of his country, and to the consequences of the region's political and cultural tensions. But while echoing a collective memory, his work often stems from personal experience, and is usually the result of an intimate process and a moment shared with someone he loves. His unique, and sometimes irreverent, way of playfully confronting the essence of reality results in a profound reflection on memory, freedom, cultural identity and life's discoveries.
Alvaro Urbano's fascination with architecture, heterotopia and fictional narratives and landscapes is undoubtedly linked to his passion for the animal world, especially birds. A graduate of the Madrid School of Architecture, Urbano joined the Institut fur Raumexperimente (Institute for Spatial Experiments) at Berlin University of the Arts. Space, utopian architecture and the environment are key concepts in his work, which oscillates between narrative, reality and fiction. The references to theatre and dioramas in Alvaro Urbano's work stem from his fascination with fictional spaces that operate in enclosed peripheries, providing a glimpse of the utopian imagination. Urbano's works have been exhibited in various museums and institutions, including the Bundeskunsthalle in Bonn, the Kunsthalle in Düsseldorf and the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin. His installations, videos and performances never cease to create a dialogue between nature, the living world and space.
In 2014, at the Villa Romana in Florence, the duo created a 60m-long passageway for their canaries, and in 2015 at Salts Basel, they made their mark with a large-scale joint installation in which hens took up residence in a large-format egg. This giant aviary, complete with multiple ramifications, marks the starting point of a collaboration where the animal meets the political and the utopian. Their research focuses on the dichotomy between the built environment and nature, and on the possibilities for negotiation between these two realities: in this respect, the inhabitants who occupy these liminal spaces are of particular interest to both artists.