Brutal Times, Manifesta 14, Prishtina
Rilindja is an icon of brutalist architecture. It was designed by Georgi Konstantinovski and built in the 1970s to host Kosovo’s first publishing house, Rilindja Press Palace. It was here that Yugoslavia’s Albanian-language newspaper, Rilindja, was published. In the decades that followed, it functioned as a site of both cultural enfranchisement and – with the breakdown of Yugoslavia – its antithesis. Most recently, it hosted a series of electronic dance music events organised by the Hapësira collective, who have advocated for the site to be protected and transformed into a multidisciplinary cultural space. In Brutal Times, Cevdet Erek responds to the political turbulence underlying the many shifts in Rilindja’s function, identity and appearance. Engaging with a now-abandoned section of the building, the artist draws out the temporalities embedded within the post-privatisation void: using graphics, lights and sounds, associated with the production process of the newspapers and techno music. The rhythms are based on Rilindja’s timeline, running from the end of the second world war to the 1990s: one second of the artwork stands for one day in history. With this immersive environment, Erek creates a space of embodied memory and experience, raising the question of what comes next.
*text from Manifesta 14 exhibition catalogue