Art is not just a luxury. It fulfills a spiritual need especially in countries where violent conflicts have taken place. Throughout the centuries, emperors, dictators, battles and wars have resulted in tragedy and grief for the Balkan region. Because formal schooling was frequently inaccessible or forbidden, lessons on history and popular wisdom and philosophy were taught in the home. Moreover, besides Albanians’ armed resistance, education in the family utilized musical and literary genres reminiscent of the times of Homer, such as the epic song, poetry and storytelling. Public events such as ancient theatre greatly contributed to preserving Albanian culture and spiritual heritage. These rich traditions were transmitted from generation to generation. In addition to the live arts, filigree work, wood carving, and other handicrafts were also a means for support as the skills were taught to younger generations. These dwellings, called ‘kulas’ [towers/fortified dwellings], were a widespread architectural undertaking.
The socialist period following World War II ushered in new developments in producing and teaching arts. Namely, the classical methods of teaching art were introduced albeit with certain political limitations imposed on the artists. During the liberal 1970s, with the opening of the University of Prishtina (1970), new media for artistic expression emerged on a broader level in society giving rise to a new arts scene with television, cinema, music and theatrical performances. Modern artistic expression infused with a socialist realist, national romanticism became a new genre that also incorporated varying sentiments of national identity. Both the visual and live arts were utilized as a form of inspirational communication. However, dark times awaited Kosovo and all Yugoslavia in the early 1990s with the emergence to power of Slobodan Milošević.
In Kosovo cultural institutions exhibiting, managed by, or portraying Albanian arts professionals were among those closed during this period. Much of the art was destroyed and looted. As part of a resistance to the Milosevic regime, a parallel system of state institutions was established throughout the 1990s. Against all odds, exhibitions, literary gatherings, concerts and theatrical performances took place in private homes and restaurants; all of this was a cultural resistance. But the worst came on the outbreak of war in 1998- 1999.
After the war, artists breathed more easily as they connected, or reconnected, with international counterparts. In 1999, the Fellbach-Haus, also known as the Creative Educational Centre, was established by Kinderberg, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), and the town of Fellbach, for the creative development of children and youth from the municipality of Suhareka, a region of approximately eighty thousand people. The Centre has come to be known as an oasis of artistic and cultural development. For over a decade and a half, exhibitions, meetings of artists from around the world, multi-dimensional cultural events such as theater, musical events, literary, film, and an the International Festival of Animated Film have been abuzz. We now communicate with many educational centers, universities and cultural institutions.
This catalogue is a product of our partnership with ArtsAction Group, organized by Dr.’s Cindy Maguire, professor at Adelphi University, Rob McCallum, professor and educator at the Allen Stevenson School and New York University and Dr Karmit Zysman with the Discovery Centre. What began as a small art project in 2010 has grown to an on-going partnership built with the strong material of the human spirit.
This catalogue represents the last five years of our collaboration with various artistic projects, communication between students and professional colleagues, as we explore innovative and meaningful methods to engage in the arts and education. Together we are working to establish a better future for humanity, while simultaneously maintaining human identity through peace, love and art.
Albanian translation available in our catalogue online.