Arts Interventions Development


«In the normal democratic world, content that is contaminated, be it physically or ideologically, is exhibited with critical explanations.» - Dr. BLERIM LATIFI, philosopher, political and ex-presidential advisor, Kosovo 

On the heels of the heart-warming success of the mainland Albania version of Guardians of Paradise, opening in the Ismail Kadare House and on the Fortress of Gjirokastra, hometown of  both Kadare, the most famous Albanian-language writer, and his infamous contemporary, lifetime dictator Enver Hoxha, were invited to stage a version of the project in the National Library of Albania’s northern neighbour and ethnic kin, Kosovo.

We were of course thrilled and honoured to exhibit this specially adapted Kosovo version in the brutalist architectural masterpiece which is the National Library, a reminder of the country’s own background both as part of an enforced attempt at a Socialist utopia (Yugoslavia), and a proud guardian of Kosovo’s national heritage for future generations.

However and most interestingly, in spite of the close cultural and historical kinship between Albania and Kosovo, the public reactions to the project couldn’t have been more different.  Spearheaded by social media attacks by prominent public figure and former presidential adviser, Dr Blerim Latifi, a massive wave of criticism against Guardians of Paradise and the National Library itself dominated Kosovan public discourse for weeks, calling for the Library director’s dismissal and state funding to be withheld. The debate resounded far beyond Kosovo’s borders including even the  Albanian-language regions of neighbouring Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia and Albania proper. Check out Media links for more. 

Gardianët e Parajsës / Guardians of Paradise Kosovo was opened by Ambassador of Norway 
to Kosovo, H E Jens Erik Grøndahl and Library director Fazli Gajraku. 

National Library of Kosovo, Pristina, Nov 1-11 2019, Mon-Sat 08-20:00. Opening Oct 31, 18:30.

  • Directed by Traavik.Info 
  • Photographs by Jørund F. Pedersen and Morten Traavik
  • Curated by Morten Traavik
  • Photo editor: Jørund F. Pedersen
  • Project coordinator Pristina: Donika Çina
  • Project coordinator Oslo: Guro Vrålstad
  • Technician: Skendër Xhukolli and the National Library staff
  • Graphic design: Valnoir
  • Additional photographs by Valnoir and Nils Christian Fossdal
  • Translations by Angjelo Kroi and Donika Çina
  • Project coordinators Gjirokastra: Ilirian Lluri, Kudret Aliaj, Stefan Arseni,Bruno Pjetri
  • Supported by Arts Council Norway
  • Printed by Studio Forma

Thank you: The people of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK),  Zamira Rami, Kudret Aliaj, Ilirian Lluri, Stefan Arseni, Bruno Pjetri, Freskida Çako, Ertil Bello, Florent Mehmeti / Teatri ODA, The Royal Norwegian Embassy to Kosovo.