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Guardians of Paradise: the Kosovo firestorm explained ENG SUBS

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Is time to talk about the main topic of Express. At the National Library of Kosovo days ago, an exhibition talking about everyday life in North Korea was open. We had a reportage about that, and we gave information about the content of this exhibition. But, we will talk again about this cultural event since it opened a big debate. Mainly because most of them were negative We will discuss them now in this talk. Photos are spreading in facebook pretending that the Library has replaced photographs of our Renaissance authors with those of the North Korean Leader. If these negative comments are righteous or is a total misunderstanding of the concept of the exhibition will be discussed here today with our guest from the National Library Rudina Tahiraj. Welcome Rudina, welcome to Express Thank you for the invitation. Thank you too, for accepting our invitation to clarify this situation and the debate that probably you did not expect to happen. So Rudina let’s talk again about what concerned the public about the last exhibition at the Library. What’s about this exhibition? Thank you! Firstly because of the space you gave us to be here. Not because of our need to clarify anything because I think everything is already clear what the Library or the Author wanted to present in this exhibition. But most of all to add information where it’s needed. For our public. So, the author is from Norway. and the exhibition is also supported by the Norwegian Embassy. The author himself was present at the opening He addressed the audience but probably he failed to explain the concept and idea behind the exhibition. I think that in general at the opening ceremonies explaining the concept is not the goal. I believe we live in a time when the concepts are given before. The Library and Traavik.Info already did it. The opening ceremony is a kind of party in our case, the artist Morten Traavik was there, the director of the Library Mr. Fazli Gajraku and also the Norwegian Ambassador. Said that the public had all the chances to see the full photographic installation and also a documentary film by Morten Traavik, done in the time he was in North Korea. What I want to stress is that Mr. Morten Traavik has a long and varied experience in North Korea. And he really knows their everyday life. Morten Traavik came in Kosovo to present who he perceives the everyday life in North Korea. In what he acknowledges as a dictatorship and isolation of a country in these modern times. As we talk you can see some footage from the exhibition there are people visiting it. With what you could see, was the public interested to see the exhibition even by curiosity after the comments and the debate started on Facebook? I want to say that unfortunately this was an exhibition which did not attract attention on an opening day, even thought it was well promoted. The media was not interested in it. They become interested in it, if I can call it like that, after individuals or different groups thought it was reasonable to talk about the exhibition or criticizing it. I think that to criticize an exhibition first, you have to be informed. All the background of the exhibition was available on different platforms. The concept of the author and also the content of the exhibition, all the information was there I think. And to create an idea or criticize another you have to visit the LIbrary. Exactly. Before we talk more about the concept of the exhibition, as you mentioned, to add more information about it. Now we will see an interview with the author of the exhibition done during the opening ceremony. I’m following up on the discussion where you left it, before the author’s interview. Most of the people had spoken before actually seeing which were the photos exposed. They’re focused on the image of the dictator, Kim. And probably just mentioning his name produces debate without having much information. Could you Rudina explain to us very shortly, since you represent the Library why was interesting for you to include in your repertoire this exhibition. And also about the subject, it presents, why do you think it was important to share with the public? Morten Traavik this July submited a request to the Library to bring the exhibition Guardians of Paradise in Pristina. Apparently the National Library impressed him for its architecture and as a cult object and important object for the preservation of the cultural heritage and arts. In his request was clear all the background of the exhibition. Meaning that the exhibition Guardians of Paradise was premiered in Gjirokastra, at Kadare’s House. So, an exhibition depicting everyday life in a totalitarian country like North Korea, was shown in, as the author says, in the land where the dictator of Albania was born and at the same time Ismail Kadare. And because of him, Ismail Kadare, being an important figure for our culture, he decides to confront in this context a dictator like Kim of North Korea. The same happens in the National Library. According to his concept, he wants to confront these opposed figures. We are talking about the Albanian Renaissance authors, who prepared the the cultural path for Kosovo, confronted with Kim. Father and son of North Korea. Obviously it depends on the public how to view it, even literaly this confrontation we did with Naim Frasheri or other Rennainssance authors with Kim. It is up to the public to see it as conjunction of figures or as space where opposed figures are confronted. And obviously this can arouse something to the population. I feel sorry it aroused only criticism but there is much more behind the figures and art than just the faces of people they represent. It is not uncommon that artists use their work to provoke debate, maybe this was also the case of the Norwegian artist. From the beginning it was explained that the purpose of this exhibition was not to promote dictatorship but to show maybe the opposite of what we are living, to show the life in what we call dictatorship. Did you think about the reactions before opening the exhibition? Did you predict it somehow this reaction? I think is in the core of every art work, of every photographic installation, of every exhibition to tease the thinking but absolutely not to provoke the population. The Library never attempted to provoke or hurt its public. Indeed we hoped for reactions but for this kind of reactions, we couldn’t imagine. What I want to emphasize again is that the public did not take sufficient information about the content of the exhibition. There is a quote by Milan Kundera in the beginning of the exhibition which eliminates 100% any allegation of the the exhibition being a promotion of dictatorship. And then you have the photographs expressing strongly the everyday life of the North Koreans through dictatorship and the system in which they live. In a way, the author wanted to share his experience and what he saw in a country that is not that easy to visit. Someone from the Library staff told to our correspondent that the students who are the people that most frenquently use the Library were not happy about this exhibition. Did they have the chance to approach you and get more information before reacting? Or is the case of disinterest toward the content. As I said before, the information was available everywhere. Days before the opening we gave flyers, also, the installation was implemented days before meaning that was enough space to get informed. If the students did not like what they saw, I can say that the exhibition was not set to be liked or disliked by anyone. I was set to provoke thinking. An exactly on the principle of allowing an artist to establish a communication with our public, we collaborated with author for this exhibition. The debates are always well received, but we think that always when you discuss about something, you should have the proper information. I really hope that after this interview all of those who somehow felt hurt by this exhibition could get through some more information. And if then they’ll still have the same opinion is on everybody’s right to think Did you as Library, ever thought or at least were you influenced by the comments and critics mainly in the social media, to take down the exhibition before the announced date? In fact, I don’t think we can call it proper criticism, what has been done until now. It is more a confrontation of ideas… the Library want’s to clarify the reason why we chose to make this collaboration We are there In fact, how can we stand behind a criticism of promoting dictatorship when we are not doing that? I don’t know if taking down the exhibition would be reasonable. Let’s talk a bit about that because of many requests coming at our newsroom to visit again the exhibition since we talked about that from the beginning. Because they don’t understand how we reacted and accepted this exhibition and the work of this author. But for the ones that want, is there any option contact the Library even via web pages or something else? Yes, we are absolutely transparent with everybody. We, the Library, did not receive any direct criticism. Directly to us. We accepted questions from the media, and we responded to different questions But we saw a tendency from the media to reconfirm the criticism that they found from the public. I’m saying public but actually I don’t know if they are the public or just some individuals who took a lot of attention. And actually our answers were not transmitted correctly. It was a tendency to not receive information about the exhibition or the artist. Except one media who talked directly to Mr. Morten Traavik. No one else wanted to communicate with him. It means that the author knows about the debate. Yes, and he is open to comments and sincere discussions about the exhibition. Is he surprised about the reactions in Kosovo? Because I believe he has shown this exhibition in other places and I don’t know how was the reaction in other places? Mr. Traavik is very surprised and disappointed Not disappointed from the people of Kosovo but from the expectations about bringing his work. He knows all had happened after the opening and he is open for everybody, for people or media who wants more information. But also with a little google research you can get links and informations about Mr. Morten Traavik and his art. I hope for those who want to know more can go online and find more answers. We are at the end of our time shortly if you want to say something to our public especially to those who now wants to really visit the exhibition to find out if they unintentionally prejudged the exhibition or not. How long will the exhibition last? These are the last days of the exhibition meaning in the 11th will be the last day. So there are only 3 days. Except for Sunday that we are closed. We invite everybody to visit the exhibition to change their mind or just to get informed Or simply to tease their critic mind. We welcome everybody. Rudina thanks you for being here we’ll welcome you for other talks hoping to have good debates too. Thank you very much Thank you very much

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1 thought on “Guardians of Paradise: the Kosovo firestorm explained ENG SUBS”

  1. Gediminas Kontrimas says:

    I don't understand. English comments, please.

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