10.06.2019 – 16.06.2019 – Festival of Artists and Activists that raises significant matters and breaks taboos
The Festival with its motto “Freedom VS Shame” disclosed for seven consecutive days in Prishtina exclusive stories, extraordinary performances, attractive workshops, essential conferences and exciting and rhythmic concerts, delivering various subjects and entertaining the participants of the seventh edition of the FemArt Festival which was held in Pristina from the 10th through the 16th of June.
It all commenced at Grand Hotel in Prishtina. A left behind sort of building, on the 10 June turned into a hosting place gathering artists, activists, citizens and media for a great event. The seventh edition of the FemArt Festival was launched exactly at that particular place.
Within the walls of Grand Hotel of Prishtina a bitter truth has been hiding, which got revealed to the citizens exactly on the 10th of June. The pain became even greater. It was precisely at this Grand Hotel the place where many Kosovan victims were tortured, raped and abused during the wartime in Kosovo. The Artist Eliza Hoxha joined her forces with the artistic and activist festival FemArt, and together they opened an exhibition in the framework of the festival titled “Be My Face”.
“We have planned this cooperation with Eliza Hoxha for four years now. During February with talked about the idea of the exhibition and I insisted for the Hotel Grand as I already knew about its untold story. During the war people were raped and killed there and no one has ever dealt with those crimes and this way it was my desire to go back on time and talk about those unsentenced and unheard crimes as the exhibition is about the stories of women who experienced sexual violence during the war”, said the Director of the FemArt Festival Zana Hoxha. She continued, maintaining that it is often thought that the sexual violence occurred outside Prishtina, away from the center, in small villages or towns, but FemArt together with its artists aimed at turning the attention here and to feel with those men and women who never dared to speak up.
Artist Eliza Hoxha, who has often been a voice against the violence that occurred in Kosovo, together with FemArt, brought forth the exhibition which received the attention of the media and took their lead. An exhibition that brought tears to the eyes of the public, set confessions on transparent frames. All of these confessions were situated precisely in the area where those crimes were committed.
“We are aware that rape happened at Grand Hotel, and this space here was one of the areas where evidence has been found of people who have been maltreated and raped. The facility itself has served for this purpose here in Pristina. Second, it was important for us to find an environment that is not very beautiful and bright same as these people who do not have beautiful life after all. Vasfije is the first to confess her story, and in this way, we can envisage in that confession the stories of many other women. That confession is the call for us to accept them”, stated the artist.
“Freedom VS Shame” was this year’s festival motto. This motto followed all participants for seven days. And the Canon (Albanian Kanuni) could not be absent with this motto. This theme that follows us throughout life was also treated in FemArt, by the director Arlinda Morina. She brought the extraordinary performance of the “Woman’s Canon”. While the Dutch artist Judith De Leeuv, known as “JDL street art”, featured a mural entitled “Rise and Fall”. This mural shows the cycle that never ends with women who prevail and fall and then rise again. A story that never ends.
With her piece of art the artist aims to pass a massage to the students who pass by and see this mural, that they should be able to believe that they can do anything, even if it means doing a job that is considered exclusively for men.
Another wonderful performance came under the Hungarian director Veronika Szabo. “Queendom”, which appeared at the Oda Theater. It presented the image of the woman from the Renaissance to this day. This show was premiered in Hungary last year and it came in Kosovo through FemArt, and it disclosed the pathway of different women in different periods and situations.
FemArt, in its seventh edition brought also poetry and discussion panels, which make an important part of the festival. With this motto in mind, even this discussion panels debated about the subject of violence experienced during the war time in Kosovo. FemArt once again paid a special relevance to all those women and men who lost pieces of themselves, pieces of life. The media, which play an important role in this field, appeared in one of the panels where they talked about fighting the stigma through media and arts.
Ramize Murtezi Shala, author of the broadcasting show “Udhëve” (“Paths”) from RTK, is one of the journalists which has given a great significance to the topic of rape of men and women during the war in Kosovo.
“We have tried to keep it as a topic simply spoken out in the media, so neither me nor Radio Television of Kosovo can boast, because I think the greatest fault for this stigmatization that has lasted for so long falls over media. If we, as media, had started earlier to deal with war rape and other events, not to seek revenge, but simply to keep the subject alive, always looking for ways to avoid pressure, so that cases would be treated and traumas would be cured through the help of experts”, – maintained Murtezi-Shala, the journalist with whom the heroine Vasfije Krasniqi-Goodman shared her confession of rape during the war in Kosovo.
FemArt is one of the festivals, which apart from the artistic part, it brings to the memory also the stories, which we might have forgotten it teaches us things we were not aware of and also it teaches us how to walk with “Freedom VS Shame”.
The public had the chance to “travel” through “FemArt 7” and experience the excitements of over 30 activities, which were organized in different locations, institutions and cultural centers, such as: Oda Theater, National Theater of Kosovo, National Library “Pjetër Bogdani”, National Gallery, Kosovo Museum, ICK, Faculty of Arts, etc. Two conferences with six panels within the conferences, a mural inauguration, four theatrical performances – one premiere, three discussion panels, two artistic performances, one poetic evening, two exhibitions – one sale exhibition for fundraising for charity, a presentation, three workshops, a master class, an “after party” and two grand concerts were held in these centers and cultural institutions.
In addition to some 200 artists and activists from Kosovo, the region, Europe, America, Asia and Africa, the festival engaged 30 young and new volunteers from all communities in Kosovo in order to raise youth participation in the issue of strengthening the role of Kosovo and the regional women, in sharing their own experiences.
The donors of the Festival FemArt were: European Union. KCR, Kvinna till Kvinna, Austrian Development Cooperation, UNFPA, Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports, Municiaplity of Prishtina, Cfd, QKRMT, Unë e Du Kosovën, IPKO Foundation, UN WOMEN, Koalicioni K10, Hotel International Prishtina.
Institutional and media supporters are: Glam Radio, Kosovo National Library “Pjetër Bogdani”, Kosovo National Gallery. Kosovo Museum, Oda Theater, Faculty of Arts, KultPlus, Canteen Ramiz Sadiku.