A native of Albania, Helidon Gjergji had been studying art in Italy before he came to the United States for the first time to get his master's degree. He considered himself a painter, but he was so struck by America's throwaway mentality that he started assembling discarded TV sets and plastic bags to express his concerns about the abuse of political, religious, and economic power. Waves explores this theme by tracing the history of television.
At the dawn of the mass television era, a handful of television stations broadcasted a few programs for only several hours per day. The absence of choice meant that television was autocratic, dictating what viewers would watch and when. As television rose to become the new center of gravity for the private social sphere, it often produced unintended consequences. While channel surfing for the football game, for example, a sports fan might inadvertently watch the recent developments of a coup d’etat in the Ivory Cost, which he didn’t even know existed.
As TV stations boomed, they extended broadcasting around the clock, which increased viewer’s choices thus “democratizing” television. Gradually, the unilateral relationship between the TV and its viewer morphed into a mutual rapport as televisions (or at least their producers) started watching their audiences: Which programs are the most popular? At what time of day do most people watch TV? How do gender, race, age, and socioeconomic status dictate programmatic and scheduling preferences? Demographic statistics aided and encouraged this process of democratization, as cable, video, satellite, and other technological achievements developed to provide infinitely more choices, resulting in a sophisticated virtual system.
Today, the remote control has become an additive fictional muscle of one’s body, obediently sending impulses from one’s mind to the TV monitor. No more need for the football fan to watch news about the Ivory Cost, or for a Georgian expatriate to follow the Georgian - Russian conflict through Russian, American or French channels, when the Georgian channel is available via satellite. The Georgian channel will speak to its citizen exactly the way she wants it to, in her own language, literally and metaphorically. Meanwhile, a Russian viewer is delivered a different version of the story in her respective language. Thus, TV assumes a chameleon-like identity, conforming to the tastes and cultural nuances of whoever happens to be watching. What once transmitted a virtual version of reality now reflects a virtual reconstruction of one’s own superego.
Helidon Gjergji born in Tirana 1970, lives and works in NYC.
593 20th Street, #1 email@example.com
Selected group and solo shows 2001-2009:
Selected press 2001-2009: