Art has been used as a powerful tool in helping post-conflict societies to deal with the past – in facilitating peace and reconciliation, coping with trauma and focusing on both individual and collective memory. Kosovo, with its history of conflict and ethnic strife, is no exception and many artists have contributed to this process – writers, poets, musicians, film-makers, photographers, painters, comic artists, actors and dancers.
In December 2010, Ivan Tresoldi – a popular street poetry artist from Milan, Italy – led a workshop called Street Poetry Art: Memories and Identities in Gracanica, Kosovo. Tresoldi runs Art Kitchen, an organisation that works as a bridge between street art and social work. He has travelled all around Europe, to Mexico, Cuba, Haiti and further afield with his street poetry performances.
This workshop brought together 15 young Serbian poets and artists from across the country to focus on memory and dealing with the past and to express themselves through street art installed in public spaces. The workshop was one of forumZFD’s projects to include the Serbian minority in dealing with the past in Kosovo. forumZFD is an association of various German peace movements and not-for-profit organisations focusing on civilian conflict transformation.
‘Street art workshop: De/Constructing identities’, 2011. Copyright Various & Gould, forum ZFD.
In the summer of 2011 young people from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Serbia and Germany met in Prizren to take part in a street art workshop. Run by two street artists from Berlin, the workshops examined identity, encouraging participants to challenge preconceived ideas.
‘Street art workshop: De/Constructing identities’, 2011. Copyright Various & Gould, forumZFD.
The two street artists who led this workshop explain their idea: ‘The faces are horizontally cut in stripes, so that you can rearrange them in endless variations. In addition there are a series of words [marking one’s identities] on the backside so that you can replace some parts of the face. There are so many options, some make sense, some don’t, some evoke images and even stereotypes in your head, but they give no concrete answer. It’s all in the viewer.
‘Street poetry workshop: Memories and identities’, 2010. Copyright Ljubisa Milovanovic, forumZFD.
Photo from a workshop with young Serbian poets and artists, run by Italian street poetry artist Ivan Tresoldi. These workshops are part of forumZFD’s projects to help young people deal with Kosovo’s past.
This post is an excerpt from The City Speaks exhibition.