April 10, 2018 | Tuesday

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Introducing the new faces at EUICC Kosovo

The European Union Information and Cultural Centre – EUICC in Kosovo, starting from February 2018 has a team to welcome you at the centers in Pristina and Mitrovica.

Vjosa Berisha is the new Team Leader of the EUICC. Vjosa has a strong portfolio  in many large scale communication and public relations projects in Kosovo and the region. She has previously managed the EU Information Center in Tirana, Albania (2013-2015) and her work experience is a mix of business sector and civil society from the culture and arts perspective where she manages Prishtina International Film Festival since 2008.

Flamur Salihu is joining the team as the Media and Outreach Campaign Leader. Flamur brings with him a good background on communication and European Integration having worked for several years at the Ministry of European Integration.

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Arber Selmani is the Digital Media and Publication Copywriter/Editor. Selmani is a culture journalist and researcher on remembrance, collective memory and marginalized groups.

The new team has also some of the familiar faces that have worked in the EUICC in previous years and are happy to continue working to run the centres with fresh ideas and projects in mind.

Dafina Zherka will continue her position of Information Officer/Event Organiser. Zherka has been working with EUICC since  2012 and her rich experience and institutional memory is an asset to the EUICC.

Nëntor Shaqiri, is another valuable addition to the team, coming back after successfully finishing his studies in Germany. He will support the centre as the Help Desk Officer/Administrator welcoming you at the front desk.

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Milan Milosavljevic is the Information Officer/Event Officer in EUICC Office in Mitrovica. Milosavljevic has also been with the EUICC since the early days. He brings with him a very valuable network of contacts within the civil society and institutions.

Finally, Marija Perovic, the Help Desk Officer/Administrator in the office in Mitrovica, a very welcoming face, great communicator, experienced staff with many years at the EUICC and looking forward to continuing work in the next years under our management.

Both EUICC offices will be glad to work with you in the coming months so do share your ideas with us!

 


Culture as a strong point of Kosovo 

Arbër Selmani

Last year, back in May, Petrit Halilaj won the Special Jury Mention in Venice Biennale. Having previously been a known name in the cultural map of Europe, Petrit managed to once more push the border and set up Kosovo as a very important arrival in a very prestigious yet down to earth artistic event such as Venice Biennale.

kamelmennour.com

kamelmennour.com

Halilaj, with his fabric moth sculptures hidden in the rafters, filled quite a good space within ARSENALE in Venice. The moth structures, handcrafted by Halilaj and his mother out of traditional Qilim carpets from Kosovo, shift between objects hanging on a wall and costumes for the artist to wear during poetic live performances. In a Biennale where more than 80 countries and hundreds of artists fight hard to get some attention and constructive critique be that coming from a professional or a simple observer, Petrit Halilaj proved all of them wrong. Once a refugee and the innocent guy in one of the legendary photographs during the Kosovo War in 1998’99, Petrit managed to break the borders.

That’s my point. Artists breaking borders and shifting, exchanging, but also reflecting and putting Kosovo on the map. And the culture map is not a ‘whatever’ one, being the boxing arena where nationalities hit with their very best artists, aiming to change mentalities and the collective psyche.

I chose Petrit as a starting point because knowing him closely and being friends for a long time, considering his family roots and his personality development, I think it was hard to produce such artistic works and come from Kosovo, in a sometimes very posh and not understandable artistic setting.

And that’s how much close to Europe we have come. Not just with Petrit, but throughout culture and not another single sector of life equally, we managed and to this day continue penetrating the cultural scene of Europe.

My Art Guides Kosovo Pavilion, Arsenale, 2017

My Art Guides
Kosovo Pavilion, Arsenale, 2017

Let’s name here Sislej Xhafa. Themes in Xhafa’s works have included the arbitrary nature of the stock market, security and stability, poverty, tourism, and the legal status of his country of origin, Kosovo. Granite tombstone with telephone receiver, Wheelbarrow, white light strings or light strings unplugged, “Broken Dreams” with basketball ball and other works of the Kosovo artist born in Peja but living between New York and Europe are another living proof of how a small country can be presented completely and in concert with other countries and artists of high importance in this continent.

Complexities of Kosovo are now known to Europe, and that is a merit of culture. Social, economic and political reality of Kosovo is presented, via culture and art, vis-à-vis the modernity of Europe. Thus, we can say that artists have done more than expected in diplomacy. They managed to create a ‘cultural authority’ of Kosovo, they managed to tell Europe that a small and newborn country has potential to shine artistically, and that even considering obstacles of visa liberalization and financial resources, they succeeded in highlighting Kosovo in different big artistic events.

And that is the power of culture. When you send out canaries and soil of Kosovo in Venice Biennale (Petrit Halilaj), when you send the N out of NEWBORN monument in a prestigious exhibition in London (Fisnik Ismaili), when you invite refugees and migrants to have a coffee or tea with you on a Luton tail lift van (Alketa Xhafa Mripa), when Placido Domingo praises a Kosovar tenor and passionately wants to come to Kosovo (Ramë Lahaj). Countless examples of culture expanding traditional dimensions of the continent, with the name Kosovo entering competitions and exhibitions and concert halls where this would seem paradoxical some years two decades ago.

Concluding, Kosovo has a lot of stories, a lot of memory and remembrance, a lot of justice that never happened and a lot of phones that never rang. Our artists managed perfectly to spread the message crystal clear, that Kosovo is culturally rich and artistically powerful to be part of the cultural map of Europe, no matter the cost.