Kosovo

Art as a Tool for Claiming a Territory

Petrit Halilaj represents Kosovo for the first time at the Venice Biennale since its 2008 independence. The country is still struggling to gain international recognition and many voices call for unification with neighboring Albania. Halilaj’s work explicitly features the seemingly politically neutral themes of memory, childhood, and personal space, and represents exile as a mainly depoliticized “poetic” condition of instability. Kosovo is the dirtiest national pavilion; visitors will be carrying damp Kosovar earth that sticks to their shoes into the nearby pavilions of Turkey (the powerful mother figure) and Chile (the antipodes, the promise of a new existence). As they squeeze through the tunnel burrowed through the giant roots, they will brush their fancy dresses against the earthen walls, further contaminating themselves with Kosovar soil. As the borders and even right to full independence remain areas of contestation, Halilaj is offering his country an option by burying into the soil of his motherland, even offering a little window on some kind of empty subterranean space, a parcel of this earth that remains to be populated. But how does this presentation of soil serve the Kosovar nationalist discourse, its ongoing territorial conflict with Serbia, and its attempt gain international recognition as a state to stabilize its political unity?

Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei, Robert Kluijver, Jonas Staal

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Pavilion

Organizer/Commissioner:
National Gallery of Kosovo
Artist:
Petrit Halilaj
Curator:
Kathrin Rhomberg
Budget provided by the state:
€120,000
Open Call?
No
Selection procedure:
The Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports appointed the National Gallery as commissioner. The National Gallery in turn selected both the artist and curator.

Curator

Name:
Kathrin Rhomberg
Gender:
Female
Born:
Austria, 1963
Lives and works in:
Austria and Germany
No. of participations in the venice biennale:
2

Artist

Name:
Petrit Halilaj
Gender:
Male
Born:
Kosovo, 1986
Lives and works in:
Germany, Italy and Kosovo
No. of participations in the venice biennale:
1
Represented by galleries in:
Berlin

Politics & Economics

State System:
Parliamentary republic
Ruling Political Party:
The centre-left Democratic Party of Kosovo
Population (World Bank, 2011):
1,802,765
GDP per capita (World Bank, 2011):
$3,579
Net OECD ODA Aid Donated (2011):
$657,020,000
Military Expenditure (SIPRI, 2011):
No data

Alliances


IMF debt

Conflicts

Country independent since:
2008 (independence from Serbia declared)
Last Major Border Revision:
2008
International Court of Justice cases:
1
Global Militarization Index (BICC, 2011):
No ranking
Nuclear Force?
No
Ongoing Conflicts and Disputes:
Serbia does not recognize Kosovo’s autonomy, Kosovo is however recognized by 99 of the 193 UN members. A EU peacekeeping mission guards the Serbian minority in special designated regions. Kosovo struggles with stark poverty.