PAVILION OF THE REPUBLIC OF KOSOVO

THE CITY
IS EVERYWHERE

Architecture

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Concept

 

During the ‘90s in Kosovo, access to public institutional life was limited to Albanians because of the political repression. The entire Albanian pubic sphere shrank into private houses. The house became a school, a restaurant, a promotional activity space, an office, an art gallery, a hospital and a home at the same time.

This merger of private and public, closed and open, inside and outside, intimacy and transparency, not only affected the housing typology and urban fabric but also forced city life into the periphery, making the city space assume a duality; the usage of space had different meanings for Albanian and Serb community.

Under repression, using private space as public made the house a metaphor for the city, which in turn became a net of heterotypic spaces, neither here nor there, existing parallels with the institutions and public spaces as delineated by the Milošević regime. Every house provided a mirror image of the city.

Deprived of media outlets and information in Albanian language, Albanian families bought satellite dishes. One could pin down with precision the apartments that belonged to Albanians, and that was simply because of the satellite dishes, the white circle looking satellites would hang in their balconies. Very soon the urban landscape turned into a garden of white mushrooms. For Albanians, the city was everywhere where these satellite dishes hanged and private houses were open to the public, but not the city in itself.

Some of the satellites in the Kosovo Pavilion are marked with the names of the owners of the houses who gave them away  for free to host high schools and the university, namely the entire Albanian parallel system of education during the ‘90s in Kosovo.

 

Spatial Concept

The house

The pavilion is a house always in the making; unfinished because it acquires new public functions. The house is a compensation for the public space that is lacking. The house has twofold functions, while the interior has the appearance of the room and it is used as one, it is also a public institution.

 

The mirror

The inside space is surrounded by mirrors to create an effect of extended space and openness as a metaphor of psychological freedom, but not the physical one as such, since the mirror is yet a physical barrier and juxtaposition, you’re there but you’re not there, you’re free inside but still occupied.

 

The satellite

The ceiling is clouded by satellites, a metaphor of gloomy days where we found light, nourishing our souls with otherworldly information coming from these dishes. Our mind was free and our heads were satellites.

 

The carpet

The carpet has been and still is one of the central element of the Kosovo Albanian dwelling, the living room is structured and organized around the carpet. The Pavilion interiorizes exteriority and to do this it is not a matter of chance that it uses the carpet. The carpet is placed in the Pavilion to bring home-like warmth, thereby representing the gathering space of our homes.

 

The city of Pristina

The house became the city and the city one big family.
Commissioner: Jehona Shyti/Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports
Curator/Exhibitor: Eliza Hoxha
Assistant: Dea Buza

Collaborators: Ardita Byci (XK), Bora Kelmendi (XK), Dasara Pula (XK), Dea Buza (XK/AL), Donika Luzhinca (AT), Dukagjin Hasimja (XK), Elisa Maxhuni (XK), Erblin Bucaliu (XK), Flakë Zeneli (AT), Gëzim Radoniqi (XK), Gresa Kastrati (AT), Ilir Gjinolli (XK), Ilirjona Haxhiaj (AL), Kruno Ivanisin (HR), Leotrim Fishekgjiu (XK), Lorik Sylejmani (XK), Lulzim Kabashi (HR) and Meral Hallaqi (XK).

Graphic Design: Nita Salihu Hoxha
Photographer: Majlinda Hoxha
Public Relation: Erëmirë Krasniqi

info@kosovapavilion.com

The City Is Everywhere
Pavilion of The Republic Of Kosovo
At The 16th International Architecture Exhibition— La Biennale Di Venezia

Organized by:

Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports
Republic of Kosovo

Supporters:

Office of the President of Kosovo
Kosovo Government
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Ministry of European Integration
Ministry of Environment and
Spatial Planning
kosovapavilion.com

 

Eliza Hoxha

Eliza Hoxha was born in 1974, in Mitrovica, Kosovo. Hoxha is known for her work in the field of visual arts, music and photography. Her academic background is in architecture and urbanism. She is a PhD candidate at the Graz University of Technology, Austria. Hoxha, is an adjunct professor in the department of Civil Engineering and Architecture at the University of Pristina. For writing extensively about urban issues, Hoxha received Education and Promotion of Architecture Award from Kosovo Architect Association. Advocating for women’s right in Kosovo, Hoxha received a recognition from Kosovo Women’s Network. She is the author of the book City and Love, an urban diary about Pristina.

 

 

Carpet

The carpet has been and still is one of the central elements of the Kosovo Albanian dwelling, the living room is structured and organized around the carpet. The Pavilion interiorizes exteriority and it is not by chance that it uses the carpet.  The carpet is placed in the Pavilion to bring home-like warmth, thereby representing the entire city inside the mirror-box.

The carpet has been produced by a group of women from Gjonaj, a village in the region of Has, Kosovo, by using the traditional loom weaving technique. The carpet represent a mental map of the city of the parallel Pristina in the ‘90s. The map represents the home-schools distributed in the periphery of the city and also the contribution of the citizens towards education. This made the city in itself a campus where the houses were in the service of education.

The carpet was weaved by:

Taibe Agushaj, Ganimete Zogaj and Lena Osmanollaj

 

HETEROTOPIA:  Kosovo’s mirror reflection

Author: Eliza Hoxha

I show not your face but your heart’s wishes” is the inscription written backwards in Harry Potter’s mirror of wishes, where he sees his missing parents. With its shortages and desires, what would we see in such a mirror if we contemplate the ‘90s?

As part of this generation, I experienced the ‘90s as a broken and fragmented mirror, unclear and disfigured images with many shortages; multiple truths scattered across the periphery, too much uncertainty and insecurity and suspended dreams, which today need to be brought together to solve the mosaic and understand the importance of each particle that constitutes the whole.

The ‘90s might give us some answers, because it mirrors different realities and imaginaries born out of free spaces of that time. A time when individual goals were of little importance compared to the collective desires that unfolded and were represented in the form of activism, solidarity and love for the country and one another.

 

KOSOVO out of space vs SOCIETY imaginative space

Space is what determines who we are as people, and to change our lives we should first change the space (Lefebvre, 2001). But when change came to us and our lives in the ‘90s, in the form of exclusion from public sphere, other intermediate, dispersed and ambivalent spaces came forward and were produced as a form of compensation. This spatial compensation for Albanians who have been excluded from public life was made possible by heterotopic solutions, as spaces of  survival away from the power of that time. With his focus on knowledge and power and their spatial implications, Foucault himself focuses emphasizes how these “places – non places” or these heterotopic spaces soften the effects of power (Foucault, 1967). These kinds of places according to him can be found in different cultures, as a kind of effective utopia, as places where the real and unreal clash, are embedded, represented and at the same time disputed or overturned. In this way, the parallel Pristina of the ‘90s can be interpreted, when houses opened up and offered to incorporate the publicby redefining the boundary between the private and public, closed and open, intimate and transparent.

You are at school, but you are not in school; you are at home but it is more than just a house, in a kind of mixed experience which according to Foucault can be interpreted through the MIRROR. “The mirror is, after all, a utopia, since it is a placeless place. In the mirror, I see myself there where I am not, in an unreal, virtual space that opens up behind the surface; I am over there, there where I am not, a sort of shadow that gives my own visibility to myself, that enables me to see myself there where I am absent: such is the utopia of the mirror” (Foucault, 1967). This is how we looked in the ‘90s. This is how we survived. We were shadows through the city, coming to life and soaking in the light of small rooms that had gobbled down whole pieces of the city and provided the imaginary freedom that allowed us to survive as a society in political-economic and cultural conditions which were not fit for a society. Regarding the principles of heterotopia elaborated by Foucault, I would stop at the fifth, which states that “the heterotopic country is not a free public place.”

Heterotopias always presuppose an opening and closing system that isolates them and makes them simultaneously permeable “and regardless of whether heterotopias belong to an inclusive city, they are nevertheless dedicated to a certain audience. In these open homes as schools, cafés, theaters, and galleries, there was always a certain type of audience, if not in the sense of age and gender, in the ethnic sense for sure. What was interesting was that “oikos” encompassed the “agora”, not as a process of privatization but as a survival process, when the private was our collective salvation and entrepreneurship was a way to survive the collective exclusion.

If we look at the mental map of the parallel Pristina of those years, we see the entire city as a university campus, with residential areas in which the separation between the public and the private had been suspended, or in other words the city as a campus was the space in which “the city was destroyed and the citizen was reduced to a barren life” (Dehaene & De Cauter, 2008). While in the ‘90s we turned to the private to create free public spaces within these private spaces as a product of a political crisis, today’s privatization drive in Kosovo is swallowing everything that is public, which seems to be the product of a current political crisis. Yes, because today’s HETEROTOPIA is everywhere.

Space is a controversial political field, as Lefebvre points out, and “the absolute revolution is our self-image and our mirage – as seen through the mirror of absolute (political) space.” And yet, we continually sought our outer space through protests and continuous demonstration over the years. We were protesting with bread, keys, white paper sheets, candles, by turning off the lights in all Albanian houses and protesting with anything we could think of just to articulate our demand for free space.

And today, our Pavilion in Venice brings a mirror box to emphasize the imaginary freedom as an illusory and psychological effect, but at the same time the mirror as an icy barrier to confront itself “within an imaginary orb that is still real”, because this according to Lefebvre “creates a self-representation, an externally experienced inner self-representation”. Lefebvre discusses the dual space of the mirror: it is “imaginary with regards to origin and division, but also concrete and practical with regard to coexistence and differentiation.” This was because the EXTERIOR had been inserted into the INSIDE, extending the interior space and turning it into a dual space, but also the city itself, because Prishtina at that time was a different city for both ethnicities.

This space and psychological freedom is not simply an additional space, but as Lacan points out, it is “another space beyond physical space, but an existing coexistence that can only be understood in terms of physical space”. Therefore, parallelism and dualism continue to follow us today in the newly created circumstances, as free spaces are recreated, reproduced, re-designed and repositioned within KOSOVO as a free space, but still isolated at the same time, because of the lack of recognition as a state from many countries around the world and the lack of freedom of movement even after ten years of independence.

The Pavilion’s MIRROR reveals our desires, love, ambition, solidarity, suffering and dreams we had for Kosovo, and confronts us with what Kosovo is in its tenth anniversary as a state.  

You just have to open your heart and set your mind free. Free space starts with you!

 

Mrs. Jehona Shyti, Commissioner of the Kosovo Pavilion at the 16th Venice Architecture Biennale

 

Kosovo as a freespace

Apart from the immense importance Kosovo’s presentation at the 16th International Venice Architecture Biennale has for culture and arts in Kosovo, it also represents an important moment for the state of Kosovo, its new history and the cultural diplomacy that every day is shaping and branding the image of Kosovo around the world. Given the fact that Kosovo’s cultural diplomacy has done more than any other lobbying exercise in enhancing the image of the country, investing in the cultural and artistic presentation of Kosovo abroad is the strategic orientation and pragmatic approach of Kosovo institutions.

The Decision of the Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports, Mr. Kujtim Gashi to trust me with leading the whole process of Kosovo’s participation at the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale, in the capacity of Commissioner, has been a special honor and privilege for me, but at the same time it has been a great responsibility to undertake all the necessary actions for a successful and dignified presentation of Kosovo in an event of such magnitude as the Venice Biennale.

Throughout this process, a very important milestone was undoubtedly the decision of Minister Gashi to appoint the representative of the Pavilion of the Republic of Kosovo, following the proposal of the Commissioner. The proposal for Kosovo’s representation by the active and successful architect, established artist, social activist, photographer and university professor Eliza Hoxha, was not unexpected, since Eliza has consistently provided an example of how one can change things in a society and open new discussion through tireless and selfless work, creativity, performance, social activism and intellectual courage.

The most important part of the whole process of presenting and representing Kosovo at the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale was obviously the selection of the theme, which was to be in harmony with the freespace theme of the 2018 Biennale. After presenting two ideas on the topic of the Kosovo Pavilion in Venice, Eliza chose to present the story of the ‘90s in Kosovo, as a unique and extraordinary story of civic consciousness, collective resistance and social solidarity, aiming at preserving national, cultural and linguistic identity and establishing our independent state.

Bringing the subject of resistance of Albanians during the 1990s at the Venice Biennale represents an important momentum in sharing with the whole world the unusual story of a freedom-loving and deeply aware society that transformed private space into public spaces to accommodate the denied public sphere for Kosovo Albanians at that time. On the other hand, this story is a good omen in the local context, as it will open the doors for the unfolding of a unique social history, recognizing each person’s contribution in the creation of free spaces in times of social exclusion, in winning our freedom and establishing the state of Kosovo.

Eliza has been a part of a generation of broken dreams, but with strong hearts and spirit that withstood the exclusion, denial and discrimination. Back then, she chose to document various public life events, despite being so young, using her camera to record what her generation was going through. Nevertheless, she choose not to use these works, but to bring the comprehensive spirit of the 90s into this new mobilization and representation process, now in the free state of Kosovo. Therefore, beyond her idea and engagement in the whole process, other actors come together for a more thorough story of the 1990s, with their personal and collective stories for this period.

 

Jehona Shyti

 

Jehona Shyti was born on 01.06.1982.

She was appointed Senior Political Adviser of the Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports on October 1st, 2012.

Jehona finished Law Faculty at the University of Prishtina in year 2005 whereas the Master degree studies in Penal-Juridical Department at the University of Prishtina in year 2009.

Prior to being appointed to this position she served in the following positions:

2011-2012 Political Adviser and Chief of Cabinet of the Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports

2009- 2011 Chief of Protocol in the Ministry of Kosova Security Force

2006- 2009 Chief of Administration and Human Resources at Institute “Inkos”

2004- 2005 Editor of Student Magazine “The Lawyer” of Law Faculty

2004- 2006 Teacher of Lower Secondary Schools in Mitrovica

2001- 2004 Founder of Non-Governmental Organisation “The Stars of Galaxy”

2001- 2002 Journalist/ Moderator in Radio ”Globe “

 

Political engagement:

2007- 2009 Municipal Adviser in Municipal Assembly of Mitrovica

2007 onwards Member of Mitrovica Municipal Statutory Commission from the ranks of PDK Party

2012 onwards Member of the Steering Council of PDK Party

2012 onwards Member of the Presidency of PDK Party in Mitrovica

2006 onwards Member of the Presidency of Kosova Democratic Youth/PDK Party

2010 onwards Coordinator of Group on Youth Policies in PDK Party

 

Contact:

jehona.shyti@rks-gov.net  

 

Press Release

 

 

Kosovo Pavilion Press Release English .PDF 

Kosovo Pavilion Press Release Italian .PDF

 

 

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