Arising from a collaboration between the University of Sheffield and the NGO forumZFD Kosovo, the Landscapes of Repair exhibition showcases the work of six Kosovo-based artists who grapple with the reoccupation, repair and reformation of the built and natural environment in post-conflict Kosovo.
Art interrogates and invites us to bear witness to past trauma in the present, and it is from this vantage point that Landscapes of Repair responds to the following questions: How are post-conflict landscapes implicated in processes of local memorialisation, reoccupation and repair? What does repair look like in the post-traumatic landscapes of Kosovo and the Western Balkans? What are the possibilities afforded by creative practice in critically engaging these places in the present? How might we build landscapes of care or architectures of peace in post-conflict societies?
While we often think of repair as a material process involving the reconstruction of buildings and objects, it is also a symbolic process – one which Heinz Weiss argues is ‘never quite finished’. Confronting the spaces and places marked by the aftermath of conflict in the region, Landscapes of Repair explores the ongoing material as well as symbolic repair of the Kosovo landscape as encapsulated by local artistic interventions.
Many of the selected works depict buildings that are in states of physical disrepair, and which bear the visible scars of past conflict, from the Battle of Kosovo in the fourteenth century to the more recent Kosovo War. These places, including empty homes and well-known sites of cultural heritage, have rich, multilayered histories that speak to the plurality of the landscape and its inhabitants. Others are more abstract, disclosing the invisible wounds wrought by conflict. Here, repair involves performing as well as disrupting the material and imaginary borders between Western Balkan states, and between self and other. Collectively, these works bring us closer to an understanding of how art is implicated in repairing localised legacies of the past inscribed within the present.