Under the title it matters what worlds world worlds: how to tell stories otherwise, Manifesta 14 takes up the challenge of exploring and generating new practices and modes of collective storytelling. Revolving around an emergent Centre of Narrative Practice, the manifold participatory sites of multidisciplinary learning and artistic intervention comprising the Prishtina edition of the nomadic European biennale show that storytelling is no mere matter of historiography. Rather it is a crucial strategy of survival. Together the richly layered formats envision what new worlds we might world if, in the words of political philosopher Hannah Arendt, we actively “train” our “imagination to go visiting”.
Petrit Halilaj site-specific installation is located on the Grand Hotel Prishtina.
When the Grand Hotel Prishtina opened its doors in 1978, it transformed what was once the end of the city into a vibrant new centre. Though its five stars have been taken down one by one over the years, and the lights on its iconic sign switched off, people in Prishtina still orbit the Grand like the Earth does the sun.
For his contribution to Manifesta 14 Prishtina, Petrit Halilaj has temporarily transformed the darkened sign atop the hotel into a poetic call to his fellow residents: when the sun goes away, we paint the sky. Citing twelve-year-old Njomza Vitia, the new sign combines existing letters with additional ones – all of them lit. As the start of a bright blanket of stars spreading out to fill the city, the artist has also remounted and reconfigured the hotel’s original stars.
People from Kosovo have been – and still are – invited to collectively create this new constellation by making and displaying stars of their own. No longer a symbol of luxury, the stars are free to signify other values, to embody new desires, to invoke different longings and becomings.
Photo by Majlinda Hoxha