Prizren, a connecting point between the Western Balkans and the rest of Europe.
We talked to Leutrim Fishekqiu of Autostrada Biennale, a non-governmental organization with the mission of strengthening the local community and stimulating the understanding of today’s society through contemporary art.
Leutrim invited us to (virtually) explore the city of Prizren in Kosovo and to discover the Western Balkans’ culture and art. When asked about the reason that led him to apply to our Culture of Solidarity call, Leutrim explained us that he saw the need for more cultural exchange in the region, while opening up to Europe and the world.
The initial idea was to transform the city in a museum using different public spaces for the exhibitions, such as bus station, buildings, and private houses. The quarantine demanded them to rethink their Autostrada Biennale, methods and production, and reshape their legacy: still with a local focus but yet very connected to the world. This is when they realized it is important for Prizren to become a connecting point between the Western Balkans and Europe.
When we launched our Culture of Solidarity call they decided to apply with the proposal of a tandem model where a local artist and an international artist work together to produce small performances, conversation pieces, readings, sculptures, or other forms of art. Their project TANDEM BIENNALE will be presented both in an analogue and digital shape in summer 2021.
The organization was founded in 2014 by a team of young people including artists, pedagogues and sociologists who, after the establishment, created an advisory board composed of leaders in their fields, living and working in different parts of the world.In their previous editions they had artists directly focused on their work but with this Tandem Biennale, they want to connect European artists and create duos. Collaboration will start online and then, when borders will be open, the artists will meet in Kosovo or elsewhere and make work together.
Every year they collaborate with different curators from different countries and through them they are connected to different realities in the world and keep on expanding their network.
The curators of this edition, Ovul Durmusoglu and Joanna Warsza, live in Berlin and this connection with a central European city will allow Autostrada Biennae to collaborate with more artists and experts from all over Europe.
“We have announced our co-curators just a week ago and the news was covered by international media as well as local ones,” explains Leutrim, “We are very happy to work with them. Together with a curatorial team we will use the upcoming period to research new spaces and artists. The selection of artists will be done by the co-curators, they are totally independent on this and as a curatorial team we open them to the archive of our biennale. We are planning to have curators in Kosovo in late August or the beginning of September in order to meet artists, partners and supporters. The meetings will be not just in Kosovo but in the region as well.”
European culture of solidarity
With this project, Kosovan and European artists will have the opportunity to develop their ideas during the days of pandemics and present their work together at the Autostrada Biennale 2021.
The aim of the project is to create an imaginative and cultural space for artists who continue their work in Kosovo and different regions of Europe in a virtual world without borders, to enable them to collaborate and produce works together. The project will promote and be in line with universal European values for human dignity and human rights, freedom, democracy and equality.
The future of our European public space
One of their main programmes is “The Movement Autostrada Biennale” which really represents a concrete idea for “Cooperation between Art and Culture-making Organizations” through crossovers. An interactive map presents all the programs, festivals, galleries, museums, and exhibitions taking place across Prizren, Pristina, Belgrade, Skopje, Thessaloniki and Sarajevo. This is a connection that goes beyond national borders and establishes an easy and simple communication line.
The vision of the Autostrada Biennale is to become a meeting point for people, creative ideas, cultures, communities, and to create an open platform for contemporary art and education in connection with the Balkan region and beyond.
Grant awarded: €30,000