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Erzen Shkololli

The works of Erzen Shkololli address the traumata of the Kosovo war as well as the fate that many of his fellow citizens have had to cope with since the 1990s. Though many inhabitants of former Eastern Europe believed in the long-anticipated process of liberation that began in 1989, Serbian leader Slobodan Milošević revoked Kosovo’s status as an independent province of Serbia during the same year and crushed the people’s hope. The repression of Albanians, that province’s largest ethnic group, led to the formation of the Kosovo Liberation Army and an insurgency which Milošević beat down in 1998, forcing 800,000 ethnic Albanians to leave their homes. A three-month NATO bombing campaign in 1999 compelled Milošević to back down. Even today, Serbia still does not recognize Kosovo’s independence, which was first claimed in 1991.

In his photo and video works, Shkololli works with traditional folkloristic and ethnic tools and rituals that people still carry out, albeit always with a (post-)war metaphor in mind. Shkololli’s backdrops are often sites affected by the Kosovo war, and these produce a distancing effect in the beholder. Dilapidated or destroyed houses, ruins, and the remnants of a past life are juxtaposed with moments of extreme beauty under extraordinary conditions, giving rise to an overall impression of collages of the unreal.  

Beginning in 1999, the war zone was controlled by the UN Interim Administration Mission (UNMIK), which was stationed in the country until 2005. This transitional phase brought to the fore the shattered dreams of an entire decade, but also a longing for a brighter future, both of which lie at the core of Shkololli’s artistic reflections. Various realities of the past, the present and the future intermingle so as to comment on the state of a nation whose independence as a republic has been recognized by over 85 countries since 2008. Shkololli poetically recounts stories about dreams, desires, and the belief in a country where questions of belonging have been among the most prevalent issues for more than a decade and, today, continue to be so.

 

W.S.

1976, Peja / KO, at that time Jugoslavija

 

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