Art world came to Kosovo. What happens when it leaves?
In a young country with little infrastructure for the arts, the roving art biennial Manifesta has brought an opportunity to develop international connections and build a profile.
For an international art-world gathering, the visitors at Manifesta were younger than you would expect. Last Thursday, at the Grand Hotel here, dozens of teenage girls roamed the corridors, posing in front of installations and snapping selfie after selfie next to paintings and video works.
Enesa Havolli, 19, said she had “never been to exhibitions before,” and had decided to give Manifesta a try. “It’s so beautiful,” she added, just yards from an installation by the Dutch artist Mette Sterre that featured a grotesque rubber sea monster.
The 14th edition of Manifesta, a roving 100-day event staged every two years in a different European city, opened in July and runs until Sunday. The Pristina edition, spread out across 25 venues, had “become a whole trend” among schoolchildren in Kosovo, said Eliosa Jerliu, 15, who was visiting the show with three friends. Since Dua Lipa, the British-Kosovan pop star, had stopped by the exhibition in August and posted about it on Instagram, “everyone wants to come here,” she added. Jerliu and her friends then headed into a room that the Kosovan artist Laureta Hajrullahu had covered with cotton fluff so that it looked like a cloud. Immediately, the young women struck poses and began taking selfies.