Mural Fest Kosovo, 2020

Between the 12th and 27th of September, Void Projects collaborated with Mural Fest Kosovo to bring Change, an artistic residency and festival in the town of Ferizaj.

15 international artists, including members of the Void Projects collective, worked alongside the Mural Fest Kosovo team, Participating artists included Ampparito, Aruallan, Micheal Beitz, Helen Bur, Emilio Cerezo, Doa Oa, Alba Fabre, Ivan Floro, Maria Jose Gallardo, Retry One, Zane Prater, Vlada Trocka and Axel Void.

Focusing on understanding one’s identity and the notion of belonging, the project aimed to provide a valuable space for cultural exchange, utilising art as a means of provoking thought, while creating a strong bridge of communication between the artists and the local communities. The socially engaged initiative focused specifically on inspiring the young people of Ferizaj, working alongside local schools and colleges to provide workshops as well as facilitating direct involvement in the festivals production and realisation.

This collaboration enabled a poignant and socially impactful exchange that positively parallels the regeneration and revitalisation of the city of Ferizaj and Kosovo by enriching the artistic culture and adding colour and dialogue to the city’s walls.

Zane Prater (USA) paints a portrait of Endrina, one of the volunteers, and painter.

“Walking through the city of Ferizaj it is evident that it is a masculine space. The bars, cafes, shops, and street corners are crowded by men going about their days. It seems that every city square is inhabited by some larger than-life war hero memorialized in cast metal, flag in one hand, rifle in the other. And yet, nearly all of the organization team at @kosovo_muralfest and all but a few of the volunteers who made it all come together are women. It was thrilling to work with such a solid group of women working to carry forward the culture and bring more life and colour to the streets. This wall is a portrait of Endrina, one of the volunteers, an amazing young painter, and a huge asset to the MuralFest team. It is an attempt to make space and heighten the visibility of this younger generation who are doing the work to change their country from the ground up. In a city with so many memorials to the men of the past this wall serves as a nod to the women of tomorrow.” Zane Prater

Zane Prater: Endrina …

Axel Void (USA) and Helen Bur (UK) teamed up and painted a group of kids with their football titled ‘YOUTH’.

“The name Kosovo means ‘Field of blackbirds’ Blackbirds like to sing after it rains. Kosovo has the youngest population in Europe, with 50% under the age of 25. For a country who declared independence in 2008, there are scars and uncertainty but the overwhelming feelings are of defiance and growth. This mural depicts a group of kids from Ferizaj standing in front of a spray-painted goal, scrawled with their names. Kids that we’d just played football with between two tenement blocks, and that Axel had befriended in his visits to Kosovo over the last three years, over football, chats and sunflower seeds. This painting stands as a tribute to friendship as well as a homage to the youth of Kosovo and the blackbirds that sing after the rain.” Axel Void and Helen Bur

Axel Void and Helen Bur : Youth …

Aruallan (France) and Axel Void (USA) collaborated on a mural together titled ‘Generation’. Axel painted the word ‘Future’ and Aruallan pasted over a photograph she had taken.

“The Republic of Kosovo was born in 2008 after years of war. I wanted to photograph a child born with the country, with the Independence. A child born with a nationality, a territory, an identity. Hekuran, the kid in this picture, is 11 years old. I met him while wandering in the streets of Ferizaj. Later on, I discovered that he was the karate champion of Kosovo and Macedonia. Hekuran is still a child. He embodies the energy, the confidence, the strength, the joy and the hopes of this new country. But his dauntless look reveals that, as Kosovo, he is entering his teenage years. The years of self-affirmation, with a need to be considered as an adult, and a thirst for freedom. This piece is a collaboration with Axel Void who painted the words Future written upside down under the pasted picture.” Aruallan

Aruallan and Axel Void: Generation 2008 …

Alba Fabre (Spain) mural aims at conveying the idea of strength and peace, and the power of freedom,

“The image represents a woman lying in the river, wearing the traditional clothing of Kosovo. The mural aims at conveying the idea of strength and peace, the power of freedom. Traditional clothing may be customarilyassociated with the old social patterns,such as the role of the women taking care of the house dressed with thisclothing. For that reason, it aims at breaking these associations by representing the traditional clothing out of anysocial context, hence emphasizing on the women’s empowerment andindependence.” Alba Fabre

Alba Fabre: Lying on the river …

Ampparito (Spain) talks about the weather!

“Talking about weather is one the most common topics in the world. It is a life vest for many situations in our lives,I love to think how many hours we spend talking about weather, something that is going to happen and disappearinevitably, like time, in fact in Spanish weather and time is the same word.Painting the weather forecast of the day when it is painting is a poetic act; you start working on something that atthe end of the day won’t have any usefulness, kind of Sisyphus, like painting something that is happening, tryingto catch the present, something that only can be lived, like the weather or the time.Kosovo is so complex that I didn’t feel prepareD to talk about it, everything is so fresh, so I decided to use this lifevest, oh! Today is a lovely day, quite warm, blablabla.Sometimes avoiding talking about something could be a stronger message, oh! Such a grey day, seems is going to rain….” Ampparito

Ampparito: About Weather …

Doa Oa (Spain) mural brought us coexistence with the plant kingdom.

“Reforesting wild rose / Rosa canina is an intervention with the desire to revive life in the walls of a deteriorated building, mixing with the marks of the passage of time and getting closer to wildlife with the idea of coexistence with the plant kingdom. Rosa canina L. is a thorny shrub of the Rosaceae family that grows wild in forgotten patches of land where nature runs freely, you can recognize it, at this time of year, by its dense bush of branchesand leaves 5 a 7 oval toothed leaflets and their bouquets of ovoid red fruits called rose hips and kaça in Albanian, and in spring for their pale pink or white flowers. You can find it if you look at the roadsides on the outskirts ofFerizaj. the fruit is used to make jams and infusions with antioxidant powers, lots of vitamin C and many othermedicinal properties. Let’s hope the power of the plants continues with us.” Doa Oa

Doa Oa (Spain): Rosa Canina L. (Kaça) RIPYLLËZIMI (Reforesting Rose hip)…

Ivan Floro (Spain) paints a cosmopolitan woman in red above a café chilling in a fancy street in Ferizaj, Kosovo.

Maria Jose Gallardo (Spain) painted the power animal, a goat and her kid.

“The totem goat reminds us of ourselves : courage, individuality, self-love and originality, persistence in achievinga goal, and strong work ethics. The meaning of the totem goat is also individuality and investigation.” Maria Jose Gallardo

Maria Jose Gallardo: Power animal, Goat with its kid …

Michael Beitz (USA) public sculpture is made from scrap metal to create a table and chairs with wall divisions.

“‘Inlines and Outlines’ is a public sculpture made from scrap metal to create a table and chairs with wall divisions. It is meant to be a space for people to rest and play. The emphasis of the negative cut-out shapes as windows allows the focus to remain on the background, the people, and the life going on around it. Because this is what struck me in Kosovo, that people take care for each other and care for all people in general. The scrap metal used came from a local metal working factory as well as a man who collects and sells scrap metal. We all have in common our unique connection to materials and with help from Muralfest and Void Projects, we were able to come together and create something that none of us would have done on our own. We learned from each other and most importantly spent time together.” Michael Beitz

Michael Beitz : Inlines and Outlines …

Retry One (The Netherlands) and Zane Prater (USA) collaborated on a huge black and white mural in the underpass.

“This collaboration speaks to change as a whole and as a collection of transitions. The shapes and textures can beinterpreted as building blocks in the process of becoming or merely in the midst of transition. As we witness the changing of our cities overthe years, we, as human beings, also experience these changes, fragmenting, shifting, and reconstructing. The leaves and branches speak to the laws of nature and to the patterns of growth and decay, the same cycles ofchange. Like the seasons we shift and alter over the years, constantly re-inventing ourselves like nature herself.” Retry One and Zane Prater

Retry One (The Netherlands) and Zane Prater(USA) …

Vlada Trocka (Poland) mural represents change and new beginnings.

“In the endless cycle of life, beings and things disappear to give room for others. Death is an end moment but never the final one… and change won’t be authentic and truthful without it. Change means to leave behind parts of ourselves in order to be able to grab new possibilities and to trust … move with it. Death itself could be nothing more than a new beginning. It was important for me to capture the overwhelming feeling of melancholy that favours every change” Vlada Trocka

Vlada Trocka: Falcon …

Emilio Cerezo (Spain) painted two murals in her muted colour palate…

“Different types of seats that can be associated with different types of people or situations: a school chair, a therapist’s office style couch, the grandmother’s sofa where take a nap and some other chair for guests. It seemed to me a good setting for dialogue that can serve as a representation of the different social classes. The fact of placing the image the other way around interested me in making the reading of the image less direct, giving it a more dreamlike and strange aspect. I also like how the color planes work in conjunction with the environment. I seek that at first glance the work seems something purely abstract but that after a while the forms begin to be understood until the scene is fully recognized.” Emilio Cerezo

Emilio Cerezo: Reunion

Slimsafont painted a mural that represents generations, customs, traditions and behaviour.

“This mural done for @muralfest_kosovo represents the apprenticeship by the new local generations about the trade that is left as a legacy in each family by the previous generations. Customs, traditions and behaviour or ways of doing things. In a town where the birth rate has been greatly diminished in the last two decades and many families have decided to move to other places, Kamenica is a town that is ageing and in which the traditions, trades and customs that have remained alive for
generations may be losing strength in recent years due to the rural exodus.
This mural is done with photo reference by the great local photographer @arianmavriqiSlimsafont

Slimsafont: Heredity

In addition to artist interventions, Void Projects in collaboration with Mural Fest Kosovo developed and implemented a multidisciplinary program including workshops, murals, interventions, exhibitions and open tours. The socially engaged initiative went beyond the bounds of the traditional festival model with a view toward inspiring and engaging the young people of Ferizaj.

Working alongside local schools and colleges, they provided workshops and facilitated direct involvement in the festival’s production and realisation, to encourage practical learning opportunities.

What started as an art project run fully by local artists and community members, has given its spot to a socially engaged initiative, with a strong social and cultural impact.

The team strongly believes that art and culture create a safe environment towards the urban regeneration and revitalisation of the city of Ferizaj and Kosovo.

Photo credits Aruallan, Besart Bega and Doug Gillen (FifthWall TV)

Check out our blog on Scottish filmmaker Doug Gillen debut short film CHANGE, exploring the intersection of culture, activism and social change with art collective Void Projects in Ferizaj, Kosovo.

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