• This is how we ended too. What?
This is how we ended too. What?

This is how we ended too.

26/06 – 26/07/2019
Opening: 26/06/2019, 20:00
Visiting hours: Tuesday - Friday, 16:00 - 18:00

Curators: Vala Osmani, Albert Heta
Researchers: Rina Krasniqi, Lura Limani, Bardhi Haliti, Vala Osmani, Albert Heta, Brilant Pireva

Boxing Club, Mark Isaku 8
10000 Prishtina, Republic of Kosovo

Stacion - Center for Contemporary Art Prishtina is pleased to present the exhibition "This is how we ended too. What?", a curatorial work by Vala Osmani and Albert Heta.

The exhibition "This is how we ended too. What?" is a research of a research, and a curatorial work of Stacion - Center for Contemporary Art Prishtina team – built upon a portion of documentation of a research project on BOOM Festival (1982-1987), which is ongoing and lead by Rina Krasniqi, Lura Limani and Bardhi Haliti.
"This is how we ended too. What?" features selected findings of the first phase of a research, and the development of the study by Stacion - Center for Contemporary Art Prishtina, with results, materialized through selected archival material, film material and the showcasing of sung and written word – aimed at analysing a specific historical context in relation to social, artistic, cultural and political developments in Kosovo. "This is how we ended too. What?" borrows its name from the verses of "Kajranfili" – the most popular song by BANKROTT (Text and melody: Leka; Arrangement: Bankrott; Solo guitar: Agron; Bass guitar: Valbon; Rhythm guitar and voice: Leka; Drums: Fatos, Cello: Antonio; Back vocals: Ardita). BANKROTT was created in 1983.

For some who still remember Kosovo at the time, BANKROTT sounds like BANKKOS or the United Bank of Kosovo, a socially owned enterprise and a central banking institution of the Socialist Autonomous Province of Kosovo, for which data can only be found on the website of Kosovo Privatization Agency, the international collaborative institution which, since the liberation of Kosovo in 1999, managed BANKROT - BANKRUPTCY and the privatization of the economy of Kosovo. In 1983, Radio Television of Prishtina - RTP problematized BANKROTT as the band's name.

Radio Prishtina, founded in 1945, and later Radio Television of Prishtina, founded in 1974, since their inception largely dominated and managed the developments of music scene in Kosovo, with the capacity to provide recording studios, music production and broadcasting of content in Kosovo. The research shows a control of content in 1985, which in Radio Prishtina was carried out the by the so-called text controller. Musical groups or vocal-instrumental ensembles - AVI were obliged to submit their lyrics in advance, which would then edited before getting recorded at RTP.

It is important to note that both ideological and artistic control, although installed as a censorship mechanism, were limited (in its organization and capacity) and were also limited to media production and mass media communication.

However, even in these circumstances, what is important to note for this exhibition and the research, is that in Kosovo the space which was created and maintained to distribute emancipatory and dissenting content never managed to be fully controlled.

To illustrate: If one locates the description about BANKROTT that can be found online, it says: "In the beginning, the band took a long time to look for and explore possible forms of expression. Inspired by punk and new wave music streams, in 1985 BANKROTT brings their first song called "In WC we are".

After having gone through the censorship mechanism of artistic content control in RTP , the song ended up becoming "In CC we are".

With this name, the song could be recorded at Radio Prishtina studio in 1985. On the other hand, you could still hear the original title "In WC we are" sung at concerts organized in public spaces by official institutions.

Moreover, in its official video recorded at RTP studio, "with an almost commanding voice" the lead vocalist instead of a microphone has an electric razor in front of him and sings with it. Although at first it looks as a DADA act, indeed the symbolism of this act was very straightforward - to sing "without a single hair in the mouth" - to sing free.

Some of the actors of the time say that BOOM festival – promoted as the first rock-music festival in Kosovo – was a (free) collaborative space, a space that has created a small scene of "rock music" full of social solidarity, where one could sing "without a single hair in the mouth".

This space of freedom in Kosovo got smaller once again after the 1981 demonstrations, which in 2019 context are also known as "Albanian spring", while in the circumstances and the official political discourse of 1981 of the political leaders of the Socialist Autonomous Province of Kosovo those were seen as "oriented first of all against the Albanian people of Kosovo" (Rilindja, 4 Aprill 1981, Hoxha). These developments which also showed the incapacity of self-administration and the defense of Kosovo's administrative independence in the aftermath of Tito's death – leading to the de-subjectivation and violent substitution of a part of Kosovo's political nomenclature – had limited citizen's freedom and installed emergency situation with curfews in several Kosovo municipalities.

Only two years earlier, on May 25, 1979 Josip Broz Tito (1892 - 1980) participated for the last time in the celebration of Youth Day, while the Youth Baton was handed over to him by Sanije Hyseni – a student of the University of Prishtina – who addressed Tito and all Yugoslavia in Albanian and Serbo-Croatian language. Of course, the event was broadcast by all televisions and radio stations in Yugoslavia.

In 1982, one year after the 1981 demonstrations, representatives of the Socialist League of Kosovo and those of LRS in meetings and media interviews expressed their "public concern regarding the need to organize and educate the ideological youth of Kosovo" (Limani, Krasniqi: 2019). In August 1982, one month before the first BOOM was organized, during the LRS Presidency meeting, Sanije Hyseni was identified as a member of LRS Presidency and the initiator of BOOM Festival.

The newspaper articles of the time said that "in Kosovo there are about twenty such AVI groups that cultivate this type of music. The LRS (Socialist Youth League) Conference of Kosovo, in accord with these groups, a few days ago initiated and deemed it proper to organize a modern festival, here in Prishtina, where the respective groups and AVIs would present their work. Thus, after the organizational and program work and the assistance provided by OPGBP "Rilindja" and OPB "Novo-Bërda-Kishnicë", today at the Youth and Sports Hall >>Boro e Ramizi<< at 17:00, this festival will begin called "Boom 82" featuring 15 AVIs of our Province, and two more – one from Dibra and another from Belgrade. The festival lasts one day, from 17:00 to 23:00. (Rilindja: 1982)

BOOM 82 featured: Rock Blues Band (Prishtinë), Rock Massa (Prishtinë), Eleonida (Prizren), Grupa (Beograd), Fontana (Kaçanik), FAKS (Prishtina), TNT (Mitrovica e Titos), Gjurmët (Prishtinë),Ilirët (Prishtinë),Trix (Ferizaj),Enigma (Dibër), AIDA (Prizren), Minatori (Prishtinë),Tonik (Ferizaj), LED (Kos. Polje), Albatros (Pejë), Fisnikët (Prishtinë), Strujni Udar (Kos. Polje), Eufonia (Gjilan).

In 1983, Bijelo Dugme sings in Albanian "Rroka mandolinën. Bjeri bjeri bjeri çifteliës. Të gjithë do t'këndojmë kënga le t'jehojë. Kënga le t'jehojë - Çdo gje mund të jetë Roken-roll”. Bijelo Dugme was the most influential rock band in Yugoslavia. Bjelo Dugme that same year visited Kosovo and held a concert at Youth and Sports Hall in Prishtina.
The song "Kosovska" had an impact on Yugoslavia and Kosovo and remained the only Albanian song performed by a non-Albanian major rock band in Yugoslavia.

The dominant social and political perception in Yugoslavia was that Albanians and Albanian language were the foreign, the unknown, the other in Yugoslavia.

The replacement of a letter, or "In CC we are" symbolically marks the diminished space for freedom and artistic independence and intellectual independence in the Autonomous Socialist Province of Kosovo from 1985-1987, and the existence of censorship mechanism highlighting a provisional state of exception, before the great social outbreak and the war in Kosovo (1990-1999) – which followed after the anti-constitutional dissolution of the federal subjectivity and autonomy of the Autonomous Socialist Province of Kosovo in 1989.

The last edition of BOOM in Kosovo was held in 1987, featuring Minatori, Lindja, Rona, Menkis, Sebastjan, Seleksioni 039, Gjurmët, Deniza, Tempujt e Heshtjes, Totalni Promasaj, Silber, Babilon, Fillimi i Fundit, Fisnikët, Trix, Aida Baraku, TNT, Piloti (Belgrade), Zabranjeno Pusenje (Sarajevo).

In 1987, the band LED (Kos. Polje) from Fushë Kosova / Kosovo Polje (participant in all editions for which the research found documentation) were not invited at BOOM festival, organized on December 14, 1987. On April 24, 1987, Slobodan Milosevic’s meeting and speech was held in Fushe Kosove – in the quality of the Chairman of the Presidency of the League of Communists of Serbia – in front of Serbian citizens of the Socialist Autonomous Province of Kosovo. This event, which was attended by Azem Vllasi, Chairman of the Presidency of the League of Communists of Kosovo, is considered as a turning point in conversations with members of bands who participated in BOOM, for marking a new era in Kosovo, and the initial media event of the Yugoslav dimension marking the new level of escalation of conflict between Serbia and Kosovo.

"The times were changing; the desire to sing in gloomy times was dying. The free space was shrinking more and more. With “Hera e fundit” BANKROTT is greeted by the public (1988) at a concert held in Youth and Sports Hall and with this, the band put an end to its existence.

For this research and the exhibition, it is important to note that another BOOM Festival was held as a rock festival in Yugoslavia during the 1970s but was not stationed in Kosovo at the time. The festival was held for the first time in Ljubljana (Slovenia) in 1972, and its last edition was in Novi Sad (Vojvodina) in 1978.

"This is how we ended too. What?" is constructed to be a place for discussion and exhibition, an exercise which brings to life collaboration among researchers and displays findings of research in an curated exhibition – an adapted format of communication of research in relation to the audience which only recently part of the work of researchers of developed research institutions, which encourage and support research work and do (not) have the artistic and curatorial professional knowledge and work in relation to the social potential of art exhibitions.

These movements in relation to exhibition histories, once again brings attention to the de-professionalism of concepts such as artist, researcher, exhibition and curator – present lately in Kosovo, which could have an impact on the "democratization" of this field but also on the devaluation not only of the education system and knowledge, but also of the professional work of artists, researchers, curators and of the invested social potentials of exhibitions. French curator Nicolas Bourriaud defines exhibition spaces as relational spaces: "in an exhibition, each time there is a possibility of immediate discussion in both meanings, even when the exposed forms are inert: I see, I comment, and I move around in a space-time. Art is the site that produces specific sociability "(2002, 14, 16).

The exhibition: "This is how we ended too. What?" once again brings the attention of the missing and the poorly administered archive material from public institutions in Kosovo, and the lacking research that has an impact on the reflection of important events, significant historical, social and political developments.

"In WC we are" (1985) is also relevant to current circumstances and social developments in Kosovo in 2019.

This exercise is also a result of limitations, developments, principles and aspirations of independent art institutions and academic exponents as actors and power centers, which resemble the power mechanisms that once restricted the free artistic expression in Kosovo.

Stacion - Center for Contemporary Art Prishtina thanks Lura Limani, Rina Krasniqi, Bardhi Haliti, Leka, Adnan, Ljubiša and RTK Archive for their cooperation

The exhibition: "This is how we ended too. What?" was supported by Stacion - Center for Contemporary Art Prishtina, Radio Television of Kosova - RTK Archive, 'Kosovo-Strand' AHRC (Global Challenges) project 'Changing the Story', the Municipality of Prishtina, DZG and x-print.