Fitore Isufi – Koja is young conceptual artist from Kosovo who works with discourses related to the socio-cultural conditions and circumstances in transitional societies, applicable as well to her country and its neighbors. The issues of tradition, myths, war conflicts, gender, transformation, absurd and contrasts between the old and the new, the dominant patriarchal system of values versus the contemporary freedom of behaving and acting, and many other existential aspects preoccupy her visual explorations and artworks.
The selected works of the latest Koja’s presentation in Miza Gallery in Tirana entitled “The making of interpretations” examine gender issues and question the position of women in Kosovo nowadays and the reminiscences of the old system, conflicting with the new times. Gender balanced point of view of certain aspects that determine the status of the woman from patriarchal societies in general (women in subordinated positions), is contrasted with the ironical presentation of the former values and their alteration in new attire as a symbol of the past and exceeded times. However, Koja also disputes the aspect of the current rural reticence of norms and restraints by questioning the elements of emancipation, modernization and contemporariness.
The video “Japan” is very simple, jet very strong conceptual artwork, which derides an old local tradition that is long out of practice in the urban areas. It is about “celebrating” woman’s virginity on her first wedding night by favoring the white sheet stained with blood, as evidence of the “purity” of the woman who enters the family. This ritual placed in the current context and in the urban surrounding can be transcribed as ontology of one’s identity. The flag flies freely and by its iconography only looks like the Japanese one – a white background with a red circle. What is the symbolism of this “flag” today? Does it make any sense and point in the present society? The past treatment of the female body as an object and possession is completely absurd from the current perspective, because the modern woman today decides for herself by herself, she is a free individual, equal to man, hence she does not need to show and prove certain attributes of her moral status. The music that accompanies the video – the song “Hallelujah”, almost in a hypnotic way, gives an extra dose of harmony, tranquility, stability, and identity mixed with the visual sensation of a peaceful flickering flag, intentionally neglecting the conceptual trap that hides the deep social aspects of the contemporary society. Whether this flag defines the status of the woman, and the flag itself the status in general, are only part of the questions that Koja addresses in this video.
“Under the veil” is a video where the artist treats the idea of beauty, greed, pride, narcissism, attention, loss of sense of reality, superficiality, banality, lack of spirituality, whiteness, up to the point of complete loss of oneself. Via female fetishism of the idea of being a bride and self-identification with the delusional dream of being the center of attention, Koja shows another aspect of a status, not only the aspect of marriage (that is completely ignored here), but the aspect of “being a princess” (where the prince is irrelevant). By showing the deeper delusion and fantasy – to be the most prominent detail of the unity parade, the emphasis is put on the triviality and materialization of the act of forming a union where the primary element of unification is unimportant. Pointless, the bride sympathizes with the role of decor and embellishment, until all slowly fades away to the point of non-existence. The story continues with the same tempo, but without visualization … just the sound … until it becomes just a background – meaningless and irrelevant … naked banality of superficial beauty …
The text installation “Under the shadow of the tree” is very intriguing, visually symbolic and linguistically graphic game with meaning and transcription of the cherry as a symbol of smoothness, perfection, juiciness, beauty or even analogy with the feminine principle, and the worm on the other hand, as something evil, something that bites that beauty from within, making it malleable, empty and drained. The idiosyncrasy behind Koja’s concept is “the desire” to consume the cherry comfortably “under the shadow of the tree” as generalization of the concept of idealization and strive for perfection, but the worm appears as a signal of demystification of that ideal and facing the fact that there is no perfection. Koja raises the question of conscience in this work, and also the burden of controlled right of speech and self-censorship … precisely because of the “worm” … that will eat us up from inside …
Koja’s artworks dominate with simplicity and purity of their appearance and visualization. Minimalism is primer in her expression and she creates very controversial and deeply contextual artworks with it. The meaning is not always easy to determine, but you need to dig little bit deeper into the layers of the artwork in order to touch the very core of the profound and underlying intellectual discourse. The feministic approach prevails in the selected works, jet it is pretty normal for Koja to expose her feminist positions as a female artist leaving in still very masculine society. However, what characterizes her, beside her education and artistic background, is that she strives to inspire the inner thinker and the inner child, and to nurse and feed them in order to create very intriguing, playful and systematic art creations.
Ana Frangovska, curator