EXCEPTION, Contemporary art scene from Prishtina

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Date: 2008

Region: Europe

Subject: Political/Economic/Social Opinion

Medium: Painting Photography Mixed Media


Artist: KONTEKST Gallery in Belgrade, various artists from Kosovo

Confronting Bodies: Serbian police, Serbian nationalist forces

Dates of Action: February 2008

Location: Belgrade, Serbia

Description of Artwork: The artists taking part in the exhibition were Artan Balaj, Jakup Ferri, Driton Hajredini, Flaka Haliti, Fitore Isufi Koja, Dren Maliqi, Alban Muja, Vigan Nimani, Nurhan Qehaja, Alketa Xhafa and Lulzim Zeqiri.

Before the exhibition was supposed to open in Belgrade, a big scandal was produced because of the work pictured on page 40 of the catalog (http://www.kontekstgalerija.org/pdf_08/odstupanje.pdf). It shows Adem Jashari, an UCK-leader who is considered a freedom fighter by Albanians and venerated as a national icon in Kosovo, whereas Serbs consider him a war criminal and terrorist. The work was destroyed just prior to the opening.

The Incident: the exhibition EXCEPTION, Contemporary art scene from Prishtina (Kosova) scheduled to open on 7 February 2008 and be on display until 15 February 2008 at KONTEKST Gallery in Belgrade, WAS FORCED TO CLOSE JUST BEFORE THE OPENING.

The Serbian police intervened just before the opening as they estimated that they could not guarantee the safety of the curators or the public, after an organized group of Serbian nationalist forces attacked the gallery space and even destroyed Dren Maliqi's work Face to Face.

On 8 February 2008, the curators of the project, Vida Knezevic, Kristian Lukic, Ivana Marjanovic and Gordana Nikolic publicly asked the Ministry of culture of Serbia and the city of Belgrade to react firmly against such nationalist forces in order to protect the exhibition in the future. The curators insisted on the right to present the project in Belgrade in the near future.

On 8 February these violent nationalist forces attacked again. They threw stones breaking the windows of the KONTEKST gallery and destroyed the gallery's sign on the door.

The exhibition was presented previously at the Museum of Contemporary Art Vojvodina, Novi Sad (22.01 - 05.02.2008). The exhibition is a joint effort of two organizations, Kontekst, Belgrade, and Napon, Novi Sad.

Results of Incident: The exhibition was closed.

There is a petition to ask the Serbian Government and the governmental bodies of the Serbian Ministry of Culture as well as the Belgrade city council and city institutions to ACT and PROTECT (in accordance with the law) the artists, curators and institutions involved in the organization of the exhibition project.

Source: Marina Grzinic and Rosa Reitsamer