The research on Kosovo through its creative artists aims to gather life stories of personalities in the field of literature, visual arts, cinema and the theatre. Testimonies straddle linguistic differences and convergences, giving a unique view of the struggle that different generations of artists have had to face in order to emerge on the public scene.

Pranvera Badivuku

Composer

You know, very, I don’t know what did they do, the things were all over the place. The machine, for example, was ruined, an old stove was taken upstairs, you know, I don’t know how did they carried them, those things. There was a lot of disorder in the building, empty apartments, without anything inside them. They didn’t touch the pictures and some documents because, after all, it was a building. 

And one, one resident there, she was Dalmatian, older, she didn’t have anywhere to go, so she stayed there. She told us that they brought the truck at the entry, so we couldn’t see what they took, what are they loading. Cassettes, we had a lot of video cassettes, all with serious music, recorded, different kinds. My husband was fond of classical music, he used to record instrumentals, orchestras, of different kind. We found those in another building. So, unexplained things happened, I don’t know, I don’t know.

But it’s interesting how one remembers everything he had, it happened a few times, people don’t remember everything they have, but if the things are missing… It was a bit funny. I made the list of everything that was missing because I knew what I had in my cabinet. Only notes, notes, my songs and so, I, I threw them behind the cabinet, there was free space but couldn’t go down further, I found them there.

Sevim Baki

Artist/Singer

When I was very young, there was a song by Emel Sayın, Sevda sevmessen [When you don’t love, love]… It was called Rüzgar [Wind], I was very young and I used to imitate her very often. When my cousins would come to stay over, I would say, ‘Do you want me to imitate Emel Sayın?’ I would sit down, put the pillows on the floor, my hair on one side {shows with her hands}, I would say, ‘Go get the hairdryer so my hair would look like it’s blown by wind just like hers in the music video.’ They applauded me. When a guest would come to visit us, my father always used to say, ‘Come on, sing some songs.’ Now, when I think about it, I can say that these were the hints that I was going to be connected to music.

Shkëlzen Maliqi

Philosopher

I told him, ‘I have come to submit a topic that does not exist: Byzantine Aesthetics.’ He jumped off his chair and said, ‘Who has misinformed you? How come it doesn’t exist? (laughs) ‘Alright’ I said. He said, ‘Write me an outline.’ I had already started reading some stuff. When I submitted my draft, it had two-three topics that I wanted to work on. And he looked at it and said, ‘You will end up writing a book’ (laughs). I said, ‘No, no, just like that…’ He said, ‘Ok, go ahead!’

[…] Somehow I wanted to become a Byzantine scholar, learn ancient greek. I started taking some courses there, but we got into the ‘80s, the political circumstances changed in Yugoslavia and my status as a…. In ‘78, I was employed at the Philology Faculty in Belgrade, in the Albanian Language Department. Now, you know, we were all caught up by the politics and these things, and to me no longer seemed interesting to study that, you know. Although I always had the ambition to finish it, to publish my work, to work more on it. Only after 20 years, you know after 1999 I published the first volume of ‘Byzantine Aesthetics’ in Albanian.

Flora Brovina

Poet

My little sister was small when we visited our father in Peja. In Peja’s prison, which was filled with Albanian prisoners. Why do I know this? As a child, well I was quite little myself, I wasn’t going to school yet. I know because in front of the prison all the families that came to visit the prisoners gathered and had a bag in their hand {makes a move to describe the bag}.

[…] But these miseries that childhood carries will follow us throughout life because childhood [experiences] leave a trace. Luckily it did not fill me with hatred and I like that oblivion did not take over. I remember them because I never took them as personal, but I believe I share them with all the people who waited to visit theirs in prison. I share them with all the people who have been excommunicated, politically persecuted families, excommunicated by the society, a time when your neighbors did not pay you a visit because they were afraid.

Abdullah Zeneli

Publisher/Writer

Then we had big crowds in our cinemas. You know, Cinema Rinia, Cinema Vllaznimi and Cinema of People’s Army, known as APJ […] The Cinema Vllaznimi was where ABC is today. Rinia Cinema is here {shows with hands} facing Qafa. While APJ is where UNMIK used to be. Recently, I think it was reopened. It was by chance that I was there and I saw some people, and I was really glad. I remember that cinema very well. And sometimes they held… we went there for various brasswind concerts, instruments… and different theatre plays. As a child, I followed theatre plays. I loved it very much. […] The best world plays were staged. At that time the adventures of the Indians [Native Americans] were interesting. For example, it was Winnetou.  We not only watched Winnetou on film, but it was also staged in the theatre. I also remember something very interesting from that time period. For example, as I was walking one day I saw the commercial announcing Tartuffe [The Impostor] in the theatre, it was 1962, I was eleven years old then. I went and bought the ticket, and went to see the play. I was very interested in Molière’s Tartuffe, seventeenth century, mid-seventeenth century… That long hair of {touches his hair}, you know, French aristocrats. And to me it was an entirely new world, very interesting. Perhaps it has to do with that time, also the Beatles, and I had an admiration for long hair and since then I have long hair (smiles).

Adem Mikullovci

Actor

I don’t know, don’t know, when I finished [high school] matura we had a big discussion in my family about what I will study, and many suggestions were given. From, I don’t know, physics, mathematics, astronomy, languages… geography and what not. My father would say, ‘Lawyer, the pig should become a lawyer, his mouth never stops grinding like the grinder’s funnel, and he will put everyone to shame.’ Whilst my late mother would say, ‘Doctor, doctor. He has poor health, perhaps he will find himself a cure.’ Even, even, and I am sure about this, the cleaner, the shoe cleaner in the mahalla [neighborhood] engaged in this conversation about my studies. [He said] ‘Professor, become a professor and you will be a master for life.

Sokol Beqiri

Artist

I chilled for ten years at the coffee shop here. I followed through few generations, now Era and her friends are the youngest generation… nothing, I took walks, sometimes I… I want to tell you two stories. One day, when my older daughter Toska was little, my father asked her, ‘What does your father do?’ And she was wondering what her father does, ‘What does your father do?’ He was trying to help her, you know, to say a piktor [painter], and he said, ‘Pi – pi – p…’ She said, ‘Pijanec’ [A drunk] (laugh) and the other one, I am telling you what my second daughter told her teacher, that’s what I did ten years in a row. When her teacher asked her, ‘What does your father do?’ She said, ‘He has fun.’ (laugh)

Enver Baki

Writer

The Pristina folk, in winters would generally be in their homes, spending  winter nights playing the cup game, tura game. Us kids, I will tell about my life a little, my father knew more than a hundred tales, my mother knew that much or more songs and folk songs, similarly my sisters would sing mani [folk poems] and tell us riddles all the time, my older sisters, when we would go to sleep, our father would gather all of us, five siblings, four brothers, four sisters and one brother together and my father would tell us a tale, my mother would get a salver and sing a folk song, because of course we did not have a darbuka and tambourine at home, so it was like this. One of my sisters would keep the tempo with spoons [wooden spoons], the musical tempo. In a sense, in general the winter nights would look like that, on the other hand the tales that my father told us, my mother’s songs and the poems and riddles that my sisters very often told to each other, I think all of these are the pearls of folk literature. Influenced by these pearls, I fell in love with Turkish folkloric literature and started writing poems in elementary school.

Saranda Bogujevci

Visual artist

What we found interesting about the living room [in the exhibition], it was that, you know, either in Kosovo, Albania, Serbia, but also the visitors from other European countries… all of them had the same feeling when they entered the living room. You know, the living room was a sort of, how to explain this… through the living room everyone understood that in that period of time everyone’s ways of living were similar with one another’s. You know, we were not so different from one another, you know how propaganda took over, especially in Serbia towards Albanians in Kosovo.

And when they entered the living room all the time you would hear people say, ‘We also had this, we also had this book, we also had the same television.’ Or, ‘We had the same blanket, my grandmother owned this…’

Xheladin Kastrati

Violinist

I didn’t know that the national anthem of Croatia is in Albanian. This book {points towards the book}…this song was made  by Kol Pjetër Shiroka, he translated it into Albanian from Croatian, that book still exists. I took that song because it is a four-vocal song. I performed it and I didn’t know, when I saw people stand, I didn’t understand why they were standing and somebody came to me and said, ‘Once again, please.’ Crying, the audience was crying, ‘Once again, please, once again!’ I realized that it is the national anthem of Croatia, ‘Oh my beloved fatherland’ is the title of the song.