The writings on the wall - Kosovo 2.0
In-depth | Public Space

The writings on the wall

Aggression, freedom, rebellion — three decades of KS graffiti.

By , Ngadhnjim Avdyli - 02.06.2019

In 1963, Skender Boshnjaku was studying in Paris when he saw the text “Tito assassin Ben Bella” on the walls on the banks of the River Seine. From that moment, he formed a unique connection with graffiti — one that would intensify over the years.

In the early ’90s, interethnic division in Yugoslavia peaked with the eruption of wars. Police repression, murders and incarcerations, as well as mass ethnic-based dismissals from schools and other public institutions indicated that Kosovo was not to be spared from war.

For Boshnjaku, another indicator of this was the graffiti that was prevalent in Prishtina. “[There was] terrifying, chauvinistic graffiti against Albanians that called for their extermination,” Boshnjaku recalls.

The hate speech used in the graffiti incited Boshnjaku to photograph “the walls of Prishtina,” and he continued documenting the various graffiti for about 10 years.

He selected some of these photographs to include them in a poster that he displayed in an exhibition in London in 1998.

During that time, Boshnjaku also took pictures of graffiti in Albanian. He describes the graffiti at the time as “more like slogans with dark colors and aggressive lines.”

Speaking about his documentation of graffiti after the end of the war in Kosovo, he says that it was “much easier than before” to create graffiti and to take pictures of it.

Boshnjaku included most of his photographs of the graffiti that he found on the walls of Prishtina in the 2016 book “Graffiti.”

“The most essential issues of the last 30 years in Kosovo have been tackled through graffiti on Pristina’s walls. Through them, people have expressed opposition and polarization regarding every development: in favor of God, against God; in favor of the current regime, or against it; pro LGBT, against LGBT. Graffiti rapidly expresses revolt against actualities, against policies or the people that make them.”

- Skender Boshnjaku.
“Graffiti is an immediate, autonomous display — realized mainly during nighttime, with feelings of fear and anger — which rapidly expresses rebellion, a demand, a wish, a dream, a flight, an expression of freedom.”

- Skender Boshnjaku.

Feature Image: Atdhe Mulla / K2.0.K

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