Shqipe Jonuzi, born in Gijlan, in 1988, is a young visual artist from Kosovo, living and working in Prishtina. She graduated with a Master in Graphic Design from the University of Prishtina in 2013. She has participated in several exhibitions, including: Errors allowed, Biennial of Young Artists from Europe and the Mediterranean (BJCEM), Ancona, Italy in 2013, Hidden and forbidden Identities, Venice, Italy in 2011, Urban Chaos, Gallery of Ministry and Culture Prishtina (solo/2010).
The video and photographs entitled Fortress EUrope draw attention to the walls that Europe has created for non-EU citizens and migrants from Third World countries. They attempt to depict an individual breaking these walls, figuratively, breaking through the stereotypes, the prejudice and the racism. Europe’s exclusionist policies need not wait to be broken down by bureaucrats; it could be done by the masses. The term Fortress Europe dates from World War II, and was used in Nazi state propaganda to strengthen the concept of a fortified Europe – one which would be able to ward off foreign occupation, especially from the British Isles. Nowadays, the term is used to criticise exclusionist European policies whose goal is to keep out migrants from Third World countries and non-EU citizens. This term, and the relevant connotations, have surged in usage since the onset of the current (2015) migrant crisis in Europe, with prime examples such as Slovakia, which has openly said it will “only accept Christian refugees”, even though most refugees come from the Muslim-majority, conflict-ridden Middle Eastern countries.
Kosovo, a country found on the European continent itself but on the periphery of the periphery of European policies and politics, is currently stuck in limbo. A struggling new country that has failed to secure a stable state for its citizens and currently faces limited recognition of its statehood, it has itself produced a large number of migrants – second only to Syrians in asylum requests in Germany. Is Kosovo part of Europe? Formally, it is going through an association process that will lead, one day, to EU membership. In practice, Kosovo remains the most isolated country in Europe, being the only one whose citizens cannot travel visa-free in Europe. The only country.
Having enjoyed a nine-year period as the EU’s protectorate before declaring its independence, the country’s government has readily taken on EU paraphernalia; the country’s flag is yellow and blue with stars, its hymn is called Europe, and the country uses the Euro as its currency. EU flags are even present at the borders and in front of government institutions. This is why Kosovo is an ideal example of Europe’s schizophrenia. On one hand, it is undeniably part of the continent, its culture and its history, and even boasts a Caucasian population – a topic often exploited by hard-core nationalists and right-wingers who look down on the darker skin tones of the Middle Eastern migrants. On the other hand, it has before it many years of EU-isation, which will one day lead to the crowning glory and honour: European Union membership
HAJDE! #01 – 2014 was an exchange programme for young artists from Kosovo. Young artists and artist groups from Kosovo were invited to spend a short residency at Villa Romana, Florence. The programme was initiated by the artist Petrit Halilaj who was awarded the Villa Romana prize 2014. A jury consisting of Petrit Halilaj, Filipa Ramos (curator in Milan and London) and Angelika Stepken (director of Villa Romana) selected the participants in an open call.