Anila Rubiku was born in Albania in 1970; today she lives and works in Milan, Italy. Rubiku's work includes drawing and installation; her signature works involve a new approach to the traditional craft of embroidery. She has developed a unique way of actively incorporating local artisans into projects that combine tradition and art, local history and a contemporary perspective, creating a fascinating new hybrid. "Sewing is the same the world over," she says, a universal cultural bond that everyone can understand. With this in mind, she has joined up with several groups of embroiderers from places as disparate as Japan and Israel. Rubiku provides these groups with embroidery stands, screens and her drawings, but gives the artisans full freedom to change or embellish the work.  The process involves an open dialogue between the artist and the crafts workers, a dialogue which is well-expressed in the merging between Rubiku's ideas and the local crafts culture. The outcome reflects this dialogue as well as Rubiku's own complex perspective as an Alabanian woman who lives and produces her art in Western Europe.

Rubiku came to the JCVA in September 2007. She spent most of her time in Tel-Aviv, where she worked on an exhibition for the Braverman Gallery, which was shown in May, 2008.

Her local project involved a group of five Ethiopian embroiderers, who worked with her on the exhibition Urban Pornitecture – 16 Ways. The choice of women from Ethiopia is unique and complex: stitching and weaving are highly developed in this community and traditionally used to reflect its aspirations towards Jerusalem – the Holy City. The colorful embroidery imagined the third temple and the holy city at its best. Now that the community is living in Israel, it has undergone a sharp clash between its imagined destination and reality. The embroiderers, bent on expressing optimism, have turned to stitching symbols such as the dove and the olive leaf.

Rubiku's designs for this project combine explicitly sexual, pornographic images of women with road maps and iconic architectural symbols of capitals around the world. She suggests that the speedy growth and industrialization of cities can be related to the embracing of sexual stereotypes that are degrading to women. The sexual content of Rubiku's designs was quite shocking to the modest and somewhat sheltered Ethiopian women. But the pleasant encounter between artist and craftswomen, and the openness Rubiku brought, allowed for dialogue and discovery on both sides. The resulting installation will consist of 16 partly open sewn boxes, each containing an embroidered woman's figure.

Milan-Tokyo, a round trip

Rubiku initiated this embroidery project at the Ecmigo Tsumari Art Program in Japan, in a region known for its kimono decorations. Here she invited 65 embroiderers, both men and women, to embroider screens attached to antique sewing tables which she had made especially for this purpose by local carpenters. The round sewing tables, modeled on one that belonged to Rubiku's grandmother, were set up as airplane seats when the work was exhibited. The tables, which are attached to seats, speak of rote production methods, but the embroidery produced by each is unique.
Getting lost in Venice, it's wonderful

This work, which is comprised of stickers that operate like street signs, was exhibited in the 51st Biennale in Venice.

The humorous street signs guided tourists to the Biennale's exhibition center. With playful irony, they addressed the particular difficulties of orienting in Venice, whose labyrinthine streets are made that much harder to navigate by the confusing municipal street signs.