There might have been a new breed of creature born this past month. It would be a young man or woman, most certainly Balkan (although not in every case), artistic, open-minded, curious, adventurous and paying careful attention to what is going on around him or her. It's also a person who notices that there are places in the city where the empty spaces have been left null and void for decades. He or she might think that that place could be inhabited and enlivened again, if only. . . Let's call them Bororamizians.
Since August, there has been a Bororamizian colony setting up shop in one of Prishtinë's old historic landmarks, the Pallati e Rinisë, aka Boro Ramiz. The building's former sports complex is literally, just a shell of itself, its main function now that of a parking lot. The basement has not been touched, everything left just as it was the day the building was abandoned--old flyers, office equipment, chairs, file cabinets. And, most eerily of all, a giant pile of old ice skates, lying like some monument or memorial to things strongly remembered by a certain generation that still inhabits the country's once-great capital. The brainchild for this project belongs to its three founding members, Astrit Ismaili, Rina Kika, and Tobias Bienz.
The city of Prishtina has its share of spaceship architecture (for want of a better word) amidst its pulverized sidewalks, open construction pits and quiet tree-lined streets with internet-ready coffee, drinking and eating spots filled with people day and night--sitting, smoking, talking, checking one another out. Boro Ramiz, which sits above the now infamous NEWBORN scuplture (which Rita Ora used to dance around on in her new music video that was being shot the same day as the "Prishtinë, mon amour" performance), looms in communist-era fashion above the skyline of the city. Originally built as a sports palace (it still has a pristine basketball court), it's shaped, somewhat, like a pyramid with the front of it featuring an enomous likness of Adem Jasheri, a commander of the Kosovo Liberation Army, killed with all his family members in Prekaz by Serbian military forces in 1998.
The group of thirty-two artists and the performers and other people contributing to the "residency" and ultimate one-hour performance called "Repetition," welcomed a vast crowd of close to 500 people that came through the building's doors last Saturday night. The project pays homage to some seminal artistic influences, starting with the title of the collective, named after Alain Resnais' 1959 film, Hiroshima, mon amour. There was an homage to contemporary performance artist, Marina Abramovic, in one of the performance pieces. Even the sequined roller skating couple dancing gracefully and followed by a spotlight in the middle of the concrete parking lot (a work specially created for the exhibition by filmmaker, Shota Bukoshi performed by Lirona Rexhepi and Ergin Abdullahu) conveyed evocations of film, art, sports and youth, creating a kind of nostalgia. This was a nostaliga, however, that was meant to be intentionally obtuse. My impression was that this was the whole point--to allow the spectators who came to see the result of several weeks' worth of planning and building (and much, much cleaning) to come to their own conclusions, to walk through the space in their own personal reverie. And then there were the sheep. But that's another story, coming soon. (All photos, courtesy Still in Motion aka moi)
And a huge Faleminderit to G. Bajri, pictured below--a pleasure to work with and a total pro, what a combo.
(There was also an article published today by Hana Marku of Kosovo 2.0 which I think should be required reading for us all. Read it here.)
And yes, I am remembering September 11 today, of course, but it's much easier to write about the pain of someone else's country than that of your own.