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Mixed Behavior

A work made of digital color video, sound (projection); 8:17 min. loop.
© 2003 Anri Sala.

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  • A work made of digital color video, sound (projection); 8:17 min. loop.




Anri Sala
Albanian, born 1974

About this artwork

Anri Sala has received extraordinary acclaim for a series of unconventionally beautiful, politically inflected videos. A global itinerant, he lives and works all over the world—predominantly in Berlin and formerly in Paris and his native Tirana. The artist’s short, formally accomplished works poignantly and strategically blend documentary, narrative, and autobiographical approaches, existing as minimal, ab-stract allegories of cultural suspension and transition. Concerns of immigration, exile, social alienation, violence, crime, poverty, and repression shadow all of his poetic, melancholic compositions.
Sala’s work is rooted in part in Albanian culture and history. He grew up under one of the most repressive communist dictatorships in Europe and later witnessed the tentative transition to a democratic, market-driven system before leaving to study in France in 1996. The following year, the Albanian economy collapsed under the weight of a corrupt government, bringing widespread lawlessness and violent unrest. Sala’s intensely analytical perspective has been forged by this firsthand experience of social turbulence and radical change. Confronting a traumatic history while negotiating a diasporic present, his work describes a condition of simultaneous disorientations—temporal, spatial, visual, aural, and linguistic.
Mixed Behaviour embodies the most important themes and strategies of this artist’s oeuvre, including strikingly innovative play between foreground and background, light and dark, sound and picture.1 Here, a lone disc jockey filmed squarely from behind spins records on a Tirana rooftop. It is a rainy New Year’s Eve, and the man bends to his task covered by a plastic tarp while fireworks explode all around him, briefly illuminating the darkness; their clamor overlaps with the sound of gunfire, a local holiday tradition. Gradually, we realize that the video’s soundtrack plays in manipulated synchrony with the fireworks: like the Wizard of Oz under a clear plastic veil, the DJ appears to control a scene that stretches across the background like a movie screen or canvas. However, while the music proceeds in a predictable, linear fashion, seeming to conjure the fireworks in the distance, we realize that the images are periodically moving backward; almost undetectably, the fireworks are reversing, seeming to implode. This action suggests the practice of “scratching”— rapidly and repeatedly reversing the direction of a record on a turntable. As Mixed Behaviour shows us, Sala exploits the medium of digital video so comfortably and completely that his arrangement of digital image and accompanying sound offers an astonishingly new use of filmic art.


Currently Off View


Contemporary Art


Anri Sala


Mixed Behavior


Albania (Artist's nationality:)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.

Made 2003


Digital color video, sound (projection); 8:17 min. loop


Artist's proof 1 of 3, from an edition of 6

Credit Line

Donna and Howard Stone New Media Fund

Reference Number



© 2003 Anri Sala.

Extended information about this artwork

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