“At that time it was not easy for me to be in public with my camera because the country was very sensitive to reporters like me,” the photojournalist Hazir Reka tells a group of wall painters. “Being in public with a camera was no different than being in public with a gun, as it could have a huge impact on reality.” Reka refers to a turbulent time in History of Kosovo When the region was in the middle of the war, he shares this experience with the artists who traveled to the region in September 2020 Mural Fest Kosovo.
Organized by the art collective Empty projects (previously), headed by Axel Void, the initiative aimed to revitalize the public space in Ferizaj, a small town devastated by war. Fifteen international wall painters – including Arallan, Emilio Cerezo, Doa Oa, Alba Fabre, Maria Jose Gallardo and Zane Prater – gathered for the British filmmaker’s project Doug Gillen Documents in a new short film.
During the “change”, Gillen accompanies ten of the artists as they immerse themselves in local life and engage with the city’s youngest residents through workshops and school initiatives that involve children and young people directly in the creative process. The resulting works of art reflect these interactions and large-scale representations of the ecology, citizens and the cultural milieu of the region. While everyone is different in their aesthetic –Aruallan and Empty produced a photo-realistic representation of an 11-year-old boy they met on the street FabreThe ethereal mural depicts an unknown woman lying in the water in traditional clothing, for example – they are all interspersed with themes related to the city’s unique surroundings and a more universal understanding of shared humanity.
“The greater this connection, the more effective the work. Exploring Ferizaj’s human stories in this way at this unique moment seemed like an important opportunity to document meaningfully, ”said Gillen.
To delve further into the history of Kosovo, watch the full movie above, and see all of the murals and insights into the experiences of the artists who worked with the residents of Ferizaj at Void Projects. Instagram.
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