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Film as Political School

Film as Political School is an experimental project which aims to read the history of class struggle through film. The first result of the project, Palimpsests of Historywas presented and exhibited at National Gallery of Kosovo. Information about the publications which accompanied the exhibition can be found here.

Exhibition text:

In 2001, Chris Marker announced a second episode of his cinematic ‘Kosovo report’, which he would never release. In a statement written a few years later he wrote that “nobody cares about Kosovo anymore anyway — until the next war.”

    While this film — tentatively called ‘Broken April’ —  is considered lost today, the ghost of war has not ceased to haunt Kosovo’s everyday life ever since. Using Chris Marker’s metaphor, Sezgin Boynik and Tevfik Rada capture the shadows of Kosovo’s recent history through cinematic devices. Palimpsests of History deals with the filmic representations of Kosovo during the twilight of Yugoslavia — of nationalism, apartheid, uprisings, class struggles and state violence. The project distills its narrative from the images of the 1980s, a time when multiple political crises intertwined with social unrest, and the widespread commodification of cultural forms was dawning. The aim of the project is to picture this history through its gaps, to put them into motion. The exhibition treats film as a research tool that has the capacity to uncover this historical period’s visual palimpsests.

    Three specially produced booklets accompany the exhibition. Stuttering Universality brings together Shkëlzen Maliqi’s polemical writings on Kosovafilm productions from the mid-eighties, with a critical introduction by Tevfik Rada. Limits of Representation presents the first English translation of Gani Bobi’s critique of manipulations in the media regarding Kosovo in the late eighties, together with Sezgin Boynik’s extensive analysis of Srđan Karanović’s experimental film ‘Za Sada Bez Dobrog Naslova’ (‘A Film without a Name’) made in 1988 on Albanian-Serbian relations. The third booklet, See You in the Next War, is an image-based reconstruction of Chris Marker’s lost film on Kosovo; it will be available for the closing of the exhibition. Apart from the booklets, the project also presents a series of silkscreen posters together with cuts from films that will serve as snapshots of history. 

    “History throws its empty bottles out of the window,” says the voiceover in Marker’s Sunless, released in 1983. By making a leitmotif out of this statement, Palimpsests of History finds in the persistent ideological dilemmas of the eighties in Kosovo clues to today’s unresolved contradictions.  

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