Marlin Dedaj Unveils Thought-Provoking Exhibition as part of the first Albanian Culture Festival in Pisa

by Maya Hristova


Marlin Dedaj's exhibition On the Skin (Sulla Pelle in Italian) was a significant highlight of the first Albanian Culture Festival in Pisa, held from April 28th to April 30th at the historic Logge di Banchi. Organized by the Albanian Cultural Association of Pisa, the festival aimed to celebrate Albanian culture and its contributions to Italy, particularly in Pisa. Supported by the Municipality of Pisa and the Sami Frasheri Institute of Tirana, the event featured themed exhibitions, talks, meetings, and screenings.

Curated by Giorgio Caione, Marlin Dedaj's On the Skin exhibition was showcased at Logge di Banchi alongside other exhibitions such as The bridge of Otranto by Genc Permeti, Guri Madhi's Artist's Evidence Exhibition curated by Pandi Madhi, and Habaz Hado's Graphic Art Exhibition also curated by Pandi Madhi. These exhibitions provided a platform for artists to express their perspectives on Albanian culture and identity.

Dedaj's On the Skin exhibition features photographs that provide insight into the daily life of his Italo-Albanian family. Through his discreet and introspective gaze, Dedaj captures the painful memories of attempting to emigrate to Italy in the 1990s. The photographs depict a life caught between two countries, languages, cultures, and identities, where the past and present intertwine.

Marlin Dedaj was born in 1988 in the Albanian city of Shkoder, during a time of tumultuous change in the country following the decades-long rule of Enver Hoxha. In 1995, his family embarked on a journey across the Adriatic Sea as part of the exodus caused by widespread poverty and political unrest. As an Albanian immigrant in Italy, Marlin faced the challenge of assimilating into a new culture. Despite the challenges he faced, Marlin found solace in photography, which he had become passionate about as a teenager. He taught himself about the art and worked tirelessly to pursue his passion while also working as a metal worker. In 2014, he decided to abandon his job and dedicate himself entirely to photography. 

Dedaj's photographic endeavors center around recording the period following the war in the Balkans. Being an Albanian immersed in photographing the area, he presents an unparalleled viewpoint, encompassing both insider and outsider perspectives. Rather than conforming to conventional depictions of the Balkans, Dedaj's work delves deeper, encapsulating the complexities and subtleties that arise from personal encounters and the narratives shared by the individuals he captures through his lens.

During the Albanian Cultural Festival in Pisa, Dedaj incorporated written words into the photographic prints to integrate the work into the public environment of the historical Logge di Banchi. This choice adds emotional urgency to the visual element, similar to the works of artists like Jim Goldberg, Tobia Titz, and Jeffrey Wolin. However, Dedaj's approach differs as he intervenes with his own writing and reflections, emphasizing the importance of personally experiencing the events he captures. This personal touch creates a deeper connection between the artistic material and life, like tightrope walkers balancing.

Marlin Dedaj (1988, AL) is an Albanian-born photographer currently based in Pella, Italy. Since 2017, he has collaborated with the social enterprise Coclea, participating in the production of Masterclasses related to artistic creation in Europe, known as ZTC. In 2018, he was awarded an under-30 international scholarship by Magnum Photos, specifically the Magnum Scholarship conducted by Alex Majoli. In 2019, he secured a residency at Shkoder Art House and the Marubi National Museum of Photography in Albania, where his exhibition titled "Seven Albanian Photographers: A Residency," curated by Francois Cheval, ran for two months.
Giorgio Caione is an Italian freelance curator and photographer, dividing his time between Italy and Turkey. With a background in arts, including a BA in Studies and Management of Arts and an MA in Contemporary Art from Brera Academy of Fine Arts in Milan, Giorgio has been actively engaged in collaborating with museums, institutions, and art associations across Italy, Turkey, and Europe since 2007. Additionally, he has shared his expertise as a photography instructor at Istanbul Technical University.


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