Creative Fusion: “What is this city about?” / Anila Rubiku / Durres, Albania / Zygote Press


Albanian by birth and a global nomad living between Toronto, Milan, and Tirana, Albania, Anila Rubiku is an artist who brings voice to important social issues.  When her residency at Zygote Press begins March 1, her plan is to immerse herself in local culture and learn about daily life. “What is this city about?” she asks. “What is the political situation? I try to experience and understand how the communities work, then I start working on how to create and the things that are very crucial for this town and not somewhere else.”

Her earlier work shows a long track record of making art for social justice. In  Albania: Women, Justice, and the Law  (Tirana Academy of the Arts, 2013), she brought attention to domestic violence in her country. Using charcoal, water colors, and sculpture, she teamed up with a psychologist to reveal victims’ traumatic lives and produce work from their and her own experience. The work was presented to politicians, journalists and opinion formers at the Tirana Academy of Arts in 2013, then selected for the 2015 Thessaloniki Biennale.  Another example is her watercolor series Bunker Mentality: Landscape Legacy, her representation of the concrete military bunkers scattered all over her country since the era of Communism. Living with these bunkers had a profound psychological effect on Rubiku and all citizens of her country. A beeswax installation of the bunkers was later presented at the 2012 Kiev Biennale.

Leading workshops is another source of inspiration for Rubiku. “The way that me and you think about the same object is different,” she says. “That fascinates me. We all have different life experiences.”

That approach is one of the reasons Liz Maugans selected Rubiku for the Creative Fusion residency at Zygote. “She is a social activist and very much likes to work with participants that are in very challenging, sometimes traumatic situations. Dealing with these different issues can improve conversation and community,” said Maugans. “I think that through her production and her ideas, she’s going to be really great with communities.”

When asked what she looks forward to learning from Rubiku, Maugans replied, “I love the way that she uses multiples.She does these individualistic pieces that have grown into collaborative installations. She [turns] these different experiences that she has with these groups into a much larger focus. Her own work reminds me of Annette Lemieux. I like the way that [her work] has these narratives about the everyday.”

Rubiku is eager to connect with artists during her time in Cleveland. Reach out via her website,