Manifesta 14 Prishtina is creating a pilot model for a permanent interdisciplinary space in the former building of the Hivzi Sylejmani Library, combining regional cooperation, urban planning, community building, art and contemporary culture.

Originally built in the 1930s as a residential building, in the 1940s the property hosted the former Committee of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia for Kosovo, then in 1948 it was transformed into a city library, which remained open until a few years ago. The Municipality of Prishtina has now decided to revitalise the building and temporarily assign it to Manifesta 14, who will take charge of its refurbishment, the conceptualisation of its functionality and will eventually reopen the space for the public as part of the biennial programme in 2022.

Hivzi Sylejmani Building © Manifesta 14 Prishtina / Qazim Gashi

Manifesta 14’s Education and Learning Department has invited Foundation Shtatëmbëdhjetë to research the collective memory around the Hivzi Sylejmani Library, by exploring different recollections from citizens. They aim to address the idea of rehabilitation in not merely physical terms but in the broader philosophical sense, as a relation between space and memory. What do we choose to keep, to restore, to rehabilitate and to remember and what we decide to eliminate? Fixing the material past of a building entails dealing with the immaterial past – society, culture, values and memories. It is an interpretative and participatory process of looking into the past in order to reveal narratives of belonging that do not embody any single history, memory or identity, but a cumulative and negotiable one.

Summarising these experiences will help members of the community and Manifesta 14’s team to understand the past. This knowledge will serve as a departure point for future activities of the Education Department of Manifesta 14 in the Hivzi Sylejmani Library, and contextualise the interdisciplinary institution and its role in that specific site, as well as the city of Prishtina.

Research Group: Bleona Kurteshi, Egzona Hajrullahu, Goneta Ademaj, Idila Ibrahimi, Lirika Demiri, Ridona Berisha, Trina Hoti.