Art installation in Pristina, Kosovo
Produced by Professor Anna Di Lellio
To open on June 12, 2015
Artist Alketa Xhafa-Mripa and President Atifete Jahjaga of Kosovo
Thinking of you: Art installation in Pristina, Kosovo, on June 12, 2015 for the anniversary of the end of the Kosovo War.
Thousands of skirts/women’s dresses will be hanging on clotheslines across the field of the Prishtina's stadium: a tribute to an estimated 20,000 wartime sexual violence survivors, who must be thought by the society as pure and clean. From the point of view of public art, the installation evokes the 11,541 empty chairs displayed in the center of Sarajevo in 2012 to commemorate the city’s dead, or the Aids quilt made of 1,920 panels, covering the size of a football field in the DC National Mall in 1987 to remember the casualties of the disease. These two events are still remembered and especially the latter is studied internationally as model of commemoration and activism.
Artist: Alketa Xhafa-Mripa, a Kosovo native who is also a British national, has already created a similar but smaller, more intimate installation for her London Exhibit, You Just Don’t Talk About It. Reading from the exhibit’s caption of the installation, “Xhafa-Mripa ‘airs out the laundry’:” “’Air dirty laundry in public’ is a way of saying, ‘Talk about your private issues in public,’ but in this case the laundry is washed, clean, like the women survivors who are clean, pure, they carry no stain.”
Sponsor: The National Council for the Survivors of Wartime Sexual Violence and the Office of the President of the Republic of Kosovo, Ms. Atifete Jahjaga.
Preparation: Thinking of you will have an artistic, commemorative and activism component. One month before the installation, (sometime during the first half of May) the artist will come to Kosovo for a series of “nights of the skirts” in Prishtina and other towns, to collect clothes from all women. These will be significant events, organized under the guidance of the NGOs that have been working on this issue since the war, and are tasked with the awareness campaign of the Council. The events will have the goal to sensitize the population to the issue of wartime sexual violence survivors.
In June, all women – not just survivors - will be encouraged to come to the stadium and help set up the installation. The idea is to create a vast and visible solidarity and men will not be discouraged from participating.