top of page

Doodles from a Torn World: Petrit Halilaj at The Met




The imaginative realm of a lolligagging child — a young student who’s mind wanders during class & who, in their dreamy idleness, etches a small piece of grafitti onto their desk, a casual act of rebellion many of us may or may not have committed — is the launching point of Petrit Halilaj’s rooftop commission at The Met, & it just opened. The doodles in question have been exploded in scale, made into jungle-gym-size metal sculptures reminiscent of Louise Bourgeois & are sourced from actual children’s school desks in Halilaj’s native Kosovo, that region synonymous with conflict & genocide.


It’s as if Halilaj were the giant from Jack in the Beanstalk, descended from the clouds to make some doodles himself — except the teacher he is ignoring is the constant modern barrage for one’s attention: work, school, phone, internet, social media, television, the news, the list goes on & on. The world is in great strain right now, conflict is everywhere, from the personal to the global — to take a moment to doodle seems utterly absurd, yet utterly necessary, as it must have been for the authors of these now-giant scribbles. To turn away from the overstimulating contemporary world (as many are) is an act of rebellion, perhaps, but also an act of self-preservation.


A doodle — what is it? What does it accomplish? It is a doorway to an inner dimension, just as art itself is: a refuge from & product of a chaotic world. To turn the idle daydream symbols of children caught in a vortex of geopolitical drama into giant kooky metal forts & oddball creatures (the spider is clearly the star: vaguely sinister, it looms like the Babadook over the roof of The Met, its grin a peek into the likely nightmare of the world outside the anonymous doodler) is to offer a glimpse into the innocence & necessity of idleness, not only for children & artists, but for anyone with a pulse. Idleness as escape, as refuge, as a moment to connect or disconnect, to discover what haunted & wondrous regions lie within the psyche: this seems lost to us now. No moment is ever idle. Let go, these sculptures seem to say, & anything could happen.


 —The Art Fart



The Roof Garden Commission: Petrit Halilaj, 'Abetare' is on view at The Metropolitan Museum of Art April 30–October 27, 2024. All images courtesy of The Met, installation photos by Hyla Skopitz.

ความคิดเห็น


bottom of page