Collaborators: Artan Balaj, Fatmir Mustafa-Carlo
Production: Stacion, Centre for Contemporary Art, Prishtina, Kosovo; Interkulturalni dijalog, Rex-B92, Belgrade, Serbia; Young Visual Artist Award Dimitrije BaÅ¡iÄ‡eviÄ‡ Mangelos, DEZ ORG and Kontekst Gallery, Belgrade
One of the principle determinants of liberal capitalism which is based on the existence of private property within countries in transition, is reflected through the process of selling out public property and its complete privatisation. This principle of privatisation has been proclaimed as one of the vital strategies of Serbia's development and one of more important conditions of its path towards European Union.On the other hand, questions regarding the problematic status of former Serbian province of Kosovo1have shown that these proclaimed values are not a mechanism of country's acting, wherefore the 'public property' (Kosovo) is still one of the priorities the country is fighting for.2.
This struggle is/was conducted through cultural, political, legal and military interventions while the key, economical aspect, has remained cunningly camouflaged by the cultural and nationalistic interests. Namely, the discourse that was and still is produced by Serbian official authority is heading towards global mythologisation (hegemonic culturalization) of Kosovo. This region is, therefore, in Serbia most frequently presented in the form of spirituality which is essential for 'Serbian origin', the nonmaterial goods worth fighting for and so on. Those conceptions dominant in Serbian society are most frequently substantiated by the fact that some of the oldest orthodox monasteries are located exactly in that region, so in that way, via social ideology, religious aspiration towards spiritual, which is immanent to Serbian orthodox people, they have gained a socially-manifested and politically desirable material form â€“ the struggle for the territory of Kosovo.Likewise, spiritual values based on the construction of the term 'Great Serbism' have been founded on repeated actualization of the Battle of Kosovo3 - on which Serbian national myth regarding heroism, suffering (caused by the non-Christian Turks), self-sacrifice, betrayal, and heroic death of the last Holy Serbian ruler, King Lazar, has been raised. The values based on this myth and coining the term ' Great Serbism' are precisely what nationalistic authorities used as the lowest possible means of manipulation during the wars in 1990s, and whose effect is even today widely present.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â The Ransom project alludes to the act of purchasing three works of art from Kosovo artists and presenting the project as a work of art in Belgrade. This act exists as:1. an act of Â concretely highlighting specific Kosovo 'culture' by determining its material value. This aspect of the work of art aims to provoke dominant cultural paradigms ofÂ Kosovo in Serbia according to which the struggle for Kosovo has never been presented through the question of power and money, but as a much 'higher' and more transcendental question regarding the ' very being ' of Serbian people. Likewise, with this act the Kosovo culture (art) is not taken over and as such, conditionally speaking, disjointed (or dispossessed) presented in Serbia4,
but that there are methods that are used to show utter respect for its importance and value;
2. an act of 'disauthorisation' of specific Kosovo culture through its transformation into private property; and vice versa,
3. an act of authorisation through precise determination of private property and its transformation into 'general welfare' (the work of art produced by open competition).
Namely, this project alludes to an intervention inside the official institutions of Kosovo (Ministry of Culture) in order to authorize selected artists' works of art as private property of those artists, so that they could be taken out of the country (across the border) in a legitimate way. This insufficiently transparent status of ownership between private property â€“ public goods in Kosovo (but also in Serbia when it comes to Kosovo) opens a field for different social and state manipulations of (somebody else's) property. On the other hand, by offering the work of art to Serbian funds (both state and private) for production, works of art of Kosovo artists become at the same time disauthorised, turn into public goods, which provokes brutal establishment of Serbian cultural hegemony in Kosovo.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Therewith, the Ransom project, as a form of deconstruction of cultural and material practices that are dominant in Serbia and Kosovo, has an aim to act as an emancipator's social practice by which property (culture) is determined as private and by doing so nationalistic mechanisms of both confronted sides (Serbia and Kosovo)Â are equally provoked.
1 The area of Kosovo implies a debatable territory located in the southeast of the Balkans and is mostly organized by partially acknowledged Republic of Kosovo. Kosovo declared its independence on February 17th 2008 and its government in fact controls this territory (with the exception of some Serbian enclaves). Serbia did not acknowledge secession of Kosovo and considers this territory as an entity under the control of the United Nations. According to 2006 Constitution of the Republic of Serbia, Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija is a part of Serbia's sovereign territory.
2 More important dates regarding the status of Kosovo and the conflict on this territory were: 1989 - Slobodan MiloÅ¡eviÄ‡ enacted a new Constitution of SFRJ by which the autonomy of Kosovo province within Serbian Republic was drastically reduced. The reaction of nonviolent separatist civilian movement of Kosovo was to create parallel educational, medical and tax systems; 1990 - Self-declared Parliament of Kosovo elected by voting the independence of the state, Republic of Kosovo. In that period the country was only acknowledged by Albania; 1996 â€“ KLA (Kosovo Liberation Army) at first started with nonviolent actions and by doing so offered resistance to Serbian and Yugoslavian safety forces (the beginnings of the Kosovo war); 1998-1999 â€“ Military and diplomatic conflicts of Serbian and Kosovo soldiers and political forces. Unsuccessful attempts of introducing OSCE observers and NATO peace forces; 1999 â€“ NATO bombing of Serbia and establishing of International Criminal Court for ex-Yugoslavia and the arrival of NATO, KFOR and UMNIK peace forces to Kosovo; 2006 â€“ Marrti Ahtisaari proposed a resolution which recommended a 'controlled independence' of Kosovo, he was then supported by UK, USA and European members of Security Council whilst opposed by Russia; 2007 â€“ Republic of Kosovo declared independence. Up until December 2009 it was acknowledged by 64 countries in the world;
3 The battle of Kosovo between Serbian army and Ottoman Empire took place in 1389 on Kosovo Polje, about 5 kilometers northeast of Prishtina which is the capital city of Kosovo today. Reliable historical facts about the battle are scarce and its reconstruction is not reliable.
4 The exhibition of art scene of Pristina 'Odstupanje' organized in February 2007 in the Kontekst gallery, BelgradeÂ was due to the attacks of nationalistic currentsÂ in Serbia and decision of Ministry of Internal Affairs proclaimed to be of safety risk and then closed down. In spite of additional activities of the exhibition's organisers aimed at state to make organisation of the exhibition possible, authority's response has, up until now, remained the same. For more information go to: http://www.kontekstgalerija.org/pdf_08/odstupanje.pdf, http://www.petitiononline.com/odstupi/petition.html
Danilo PRNJAT was born in 1982 in Herceg Novi, Montenegro. He finished the Academy of Art â€“ the department of Sculpture in Novi Sad and the interdisciplinary masterâ€™s studies in the Theory of arts and media at the University of Arts in Belgrade. He is actively involved in public space performances and social activism. His works have lately been exhibited in: Moscow Biennale (2010), Wurttembergischer Kunstverein, Stuttgart (2010), Frieze Art Fair, London (2009), Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin (2009), Museo Nacional de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid (2009), Center Pompidou, Pariz (2008), Oktobarski salon, Beograd (2008), Zendai Museum of Modern Art, Shanghai (2007). He lives in Belgrade.