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Institute for flexible cultures and technologies

EXCEPTION / Contemporary art scene of Pristina

Event type: Exhibitions / discussions / presentations
Place: Museum of Contemporary Art Vojvodina, Dunavska 37, Novi Sad :L Context Gallery, Kapetan Mišina 6a, Belgrade
Date: 22/01/2008
Curator: Vida Knežević, Kristian Lukić, Ivana Marjanović, Gordana Nikolić

EXCEPTION / Contemporary art scene of Pristina

Exhibitions / discussions / presentations






22.01–05.02.2008 Museum of Contemporary Art Vojvodina, Dunavska 37, Novi Sad

07.02–28.02.2008 Context Gallery, Kapetan Mišina 6a, Belgrade (exhibition was forced to be closed on the day of opening)





Presentations of the works and public talk with artists from Pristina (Kosovo):

23.01.2008 Cinema hall, Museum of Contemporary Art Vojvodina






Artan Balaj / Jakup Ferri / Driton Hajredini / Flaka Haliti / Fitore Isufi Koja / Dren Maliqi / Alban Muja / Vigan Nimani / Nurhan Qehaja / Alketa Xhafa / Lulzim Zeqiri






Vida Knežević, Kristian Lukić, Ivana Marjanović, Gordana Nikolić





The “Exception” exhibition in Novi Sad and Belgrade is one segment of the production of young artists, women and men from Pristina, who show their work both locally and internationally, and are formed after the 1999 war, in the time when Kosovo lives away from Serbia. It is a generation of artists which is almost unknown in Serbia. The presented production came to being in specific social, cultural, economical and political contexts of contemporary Kosovo, which resulted in the drift from the traditional approach to art and in the creation of new art practices since the end of the nineties until today.The exhibition reassesses dominant cultural hegemonies of Europe, Serbia and Kosovo as well as the national or gender identities in the field of visual art that are defined by the Balkan particularisms, interest zones of global security alliances, doctrines of limited sovereignty, nationalism, causes and consequences of Euro-Atlantic integration’s and strengthening of the capitalism. The “Exception” is the result of researching the contemporary scene of Prishtina and is a part of a project, which, apart from the exhibition, includes round-tables, art presentations and a publication that will be published during 2008.


The name of the project refers to the exception of this exhibition and the project from the mundane today in Serbia, where one speaks of Kosovo only in the context of territory and status and where Albanians are simply not the topic. It refers to the exception of the Albanian society of the nineties from the system and building a parallel (boycotting the repressive hegemonic system), exception in the future where unreflected past determines both the general and individual views on the world or exception of these artist from Kosovo from the artistic practice of the previous generations.The exhibition is realized at the time when declaration of independence is expected and prepared in Kosovo, and there are attempts in Serbia to recreate the atmosphere before the Balkan Wars from the beginning of the twentieth century. There are attempts to replace the romantic enthusiasm of yesteryear with the tension-making media pressure regarding the vital importance of Kosovo as the inalienable part of the Republic of Serbia.


For many decades the anti-Albanian propaganda in Serbia, which culminated in the eighties, with the emergence of the radical nationalism of Milošević politics is still a very important phantasmal field of politics in Serbia. During the past twenty years the communication between Pristina, Belgrade and Novi Sad was selective and sporadic, and such a level of communication is the consequence of a semi-official program of apartheid conducted by the official Belgrade; conscious self-isolation and boycotting the official institutions of the Republic of Serbia by the Albanian society in Kosovo during the first half of the nineties and radicalization of the clashes in Kosovo in the second half of the nineties, and practically, secession of Kosovo from Serbia after 1999 upon the establishment of the United Nations control. Although Kosovo has, apart from a small interval during the Second World War, directly or indirectly been a part of Serbia since 1913, the official politics treated Albanians as a foreign body and, in accordance with the racist and cultural-racist stereotypes about Albanians were formed, which were a justification for ethnic cleansing attempt during the nineties. When you have this in mind, it is not surprising that society in Serbia today does not know the Albanian culture and society in Kosovo, as it was the case in the past decades. A total blockade of information about the Albanians and partial about the Serbs from Kosovo in everyday media reporting in Serbia creates an unease feeling and it is not appropriate to speak of people who live there, which presents information genocide of a kind.


The idea of the “Exception” exhibition is to, together with round-tables, presentations and publication in the forthcoming period, analyse certain facts that an average person from Serbia was not allowed or did not want to know. It especially concerns the functioning of a parallel society in Kosovo, as a result of a massive “differentiation” and exclusion of the Albanians from the political life in Kosovo after 1989.


After the cognitive and emotional production (of art as a product at an exhibition) as a part of post-industrial culture as economy, the project presents both women and men artists, theoreticians and people active in culture who will discuss art, culture and society in Kosovo focusing especially on artistic and cultural relations between Serbia and Kosovo. What is in this case the field of art? The field of art is a place where, among other things, people talk about something that has to be talked about publicly, in media and parliament, and this is the issue of the past and the issue of the future of co-existence in this area, the issue of the very subjects.









After “Përtej”



In 1997, Belgrade audience had the chance to meet contemporary art of the middle generation of Kosovo artists today, when the Centre for Contemporary Art organized “Përtej” exhibition in the Centre for Cultural Decontamination. After that, Belgrade and Novi Sad audiences met with the artists, theoreticians and people active in culture in Kosovo at sporadically organized presentations. Art circles from Serbia could be introduced to the art scene in Kosovo in the “neutral” West, where they participated and visited the so-called “Balkans Exhibitions” at the start of the 21st century when the contemporary art in Kosovo emerged on the international artist scene within the specific space of the “Balkanisation” of the Balkans.


The art scene in Kosovo (just as the others in the region) was recognized on this occasion through a certain form of being made exotic where the social and historical contexts of the Balkans were connected to the negation of culture, which added to the picture of the “mythically wild Balkans”, where the art scene in Kosovo was seen as avant-garde.


Among others, a part of artists who became the protagonists of the international scene and participants of one of the mentioned exhibitions of the global culture (of which René Block speaks euphorically as of the avant-garde of the Balkans) are here at this exhibition. They represent a part of a younger generation whose work is a continuation in a conceptual sense (or is developed parallelly) of the influence of a couple of artists who have played an important role in constituting a new art scene in Kosovo and for its promotion in the West at the beginning of the new millennium. They can be seen here as a link between the “Përtej” exhibition and this exhibition. These generations of artists have radically terminated the art practices of up to then, which is unique when compared other practices in the region.


The works presented at this exhibition can be seen as two conceptual units. The first one is the criticizing intervention of the artists from Kosovo in the field of the global art representation and art market dominated by the West. The other unit encompasses all the works that deal with the problems of the Kosovo society and “under construction” state with the focus on the national and gender identities.







07. February 2008, Belgrade



After opening the exhibition in Novi Sad, which was attended by numerous public officials and the provincial government, with great media attention, the reaction of public opinion was initially positive, but this event was soon used by political parties for each conviction and interference during the time while lasted campaigns for president of Serbia. These circumstances led to negative media campaign against the organizers and participants of the project, as well as condemnation and threats from extreme right-wing organizations and violent groups of individuals from Serbia. After completion of the exhibition in Novi Sad, exhibition is in the context of the gallery moved to Belgrade where he was supposed to be open to 7th February. Opening of the exhibition in Belgrade, as well as further development of the project, it was disabled due to violent action (interruption of a public speech at the opening and the threat of the organizers and audience, destroying the wealth of artistic work, calling on the public lynching, etc.) the extreme right-wing groups gathered in front of the gallery and intervention of the police.


Public panel discussions, which were a significant segment of the project as a whole, on which was supposed to participate in a number of theoreticians, cultural workers and artists from the territory of Kosovo and the whole of Serbia, because these circumstances were not realized. In support of the project and the organizers of the numerous civic organizations and initiatives, political parties and professional, scientific institutions in Serbia in the form of official communications sent by the authorities, as well as international support in the mass media and through the official petition, despite the condemnation of the violent closure of the exhibition of the Republic Ministry for Culture and the local Secretariat of Culture of Belgrade and the public appeal of the organizers, not yet provided conditions to show “Exception / Contemporary art scene of Pristina” opened in Belgrade, as well as to open a public dialogue on this project and its implications.







More about:






pdf catalog of the exhibition:





Video clips of forced closure of the exhibition:






Petition against the closure of the exhibition:






Institute of flexible culture and technology – Napon, Novi Sad

Context, Belgrade





Rhizoma, Pristina



Technical support:

Pajica Dejanović, Jovan Jakšić, Dren Maliqi, Marko Miletić, Đorđe Popić