ATO, 2023 - Autostrada Biennale

ATO, 2023

Artist: Blerta Haziraj

Venue: Pykë-Presje

Blerta Haziraj’s work documents a search that is both hopeful and doomed. It is a search whose hope itself is unstable, whose object is continuously just out of reach, and whose space cannot be circumscribed by its own ruins. ATO (THEM) evokes the history of the Women’s Antifascist Front of Kosovo, the Kosovar branch of a mass movement that emerged from the partisan struggle of World War II. After the war, the Antifascist Women of Kosovo organized rural women, initiated large-scale unveiling campaigns, and promoted education, collectivization, and the ideal of a new socialist woman. An arm of the state, it was also shuttered by the state in the early 1950s. ATO testifies both to this history and to the act of salvage itself. A multimedia installation, it brings together video footage, images, texts, and archival material. It builds on in-depth archival research, as well as fieldwork. Haziraj’s camera roams villages scattered across rural, depopulated Kosovo; it finds forgotten stories in regions from which modernist dreams have long retreated, hills ignored by capitalist fever dreams. This footage is presented along newly unearthed excerpts from Agimi and Buletini, the two publications produced by the Women’s Antifascist Front of Kosovo, which are showcased publicly for the first time since their initial circulation. Between these two sets of materials, a tentative dialogue emerges. How to find a way toward a history so thoroughly ignored by both official accounts and feminist canons? Can we even recognize its traces? Where can we find its hope?

Blerta Haziraj (1994) was born in Runik and lives and works in Prishtina and Prizren.

Text by Áron Rossman-Kiss

Photo credits Tuğhan Anıt

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