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Terminal in Tirana: Near-Death Experience

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Karolina Halatek’s Terminal in Tirana is an immersive light sculpture on permanent display in front of the Mother Teresa Hospital in Albania. Drawing inspiration from the profound recollections of patients encountering near-death experiences, the site-specific installation creates a space where art, spirituality, and science intersect. It is composed of a single polyethylene cylinder illuminated from within by solar-powered LED neons, inviting visitors to step into an otherworldly experience reminiscent of those near-death experiences — a transcendental journey through a dark tunnel towards an enveloping, radiant light. Accessible from both sides, the installation, placed as a crown jewel at the center of the landscaped site, invites viewers to immerse themselves in the transformative power of light, offering a glimpse into what might lie at the threshold of life.

Terminal in Tirana offers a contemplative space reaching further than an art installation; it is a meditation on life, death, and the persistence of consciousness. Artist Karolina Halatek roots the artwork in echoing common experiences recorded in the databases of the Near-Death Research Foundation (NDRF), adding a profound exploration of human consciousness and mortality to the stunning visual spectacle.

This approach is also reflected in the site’s transformation, which has been designed by architects Elian Stefa and Dea Buza to create a variety of moments of intimacy and pause. The landscape on which the artwork is placed presents itself as a playful group of circular shapes of varying sizes, spanning from the curved wall element, until the parking of the hospital to the south, like an archipelago in between a surface of natural grass. Through this strategy, the principal aim is to minimize the impact on the surrounding presence of nature, by not only preserving all of the trees, plants and vegetation already present in the site, but also by adding to the surface of grass-covered space in this small urban environment.

The sculpture sits in dialogue with the site’s landscaping, offering a glimpse into what might lie at the threshold of life. The light of the artwork then takes the essence of a lighthouse, guiding wandering souls towards a moment of presence and inner peace. The axis on which Terminal in Tirana is positioned is independent from the axis of the urban fabric, separating the object from the infrastructure of the city and raising its sculptural presence.

Multidisciplinary Design Studio Karolina Halatek’s collaboration with architects and artists demonstrates the power of multidisciplinary design studios in creating immersive and thought-provoking experiences. Through this collaboration, the project not only integrates art, architecture, and landscape design but also incorporates elements of spirituality and human experience, enriching the narrative and impact of the installation. Halatek’s work exemplifies the innovative possibilities that arise when different disciplines converge, offering a holistic approach to design that resonates deeply with viewers.

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