Manifesta 14 transforms Kosovo’s capital into a 100-day exhibition venue

Sustainable tourism
Manifesta Biennial is a European roving contemporary art biennale, taking place in different city every other year. In 2019, the Supervisory Board of Manifesta selected Prishtina, the capital of Kosovo to host the 2022 biennale – Manifesta 14, making it the first city in the Western Balkans to host the nomadic event. Promoting Private Sector Employment (PPSE), a project implemented by Swisscontact and Riinvest Institute, supported the international media tour and the commissioning of wearable souvenirs by local artists.
Petrit Halilaj has temporarily transformed the darkened sign atop the Grand Hotel in Prishtina into a poetic call to his fellow residents: “when the sun goes away, we paint the sky” © Arton Krasniqi

The biennale spans across a period of 100 days in which the bustling city of Prishtina is transformed into a contemporary art and cultural hub.

The title and concept of this year’s biennale is “it matters what worlds world worlds. how to tell stories otherwise”. And indeed, the artistic interventions in 25 public spaces across Prishtina tell a different story – one that granted its citizens and artists the freedom to reclaim public spaces and regenerate abandoned structures, and relearn how to take care of it in the future. The biennale will leave permanent infrastructure spaces to be commonly used even after its closing date. Namely, the deteriorating Hivzi Sylejmani Library was renovated and now serves as the Center for Narrative Practices, a multifunctional venue dedicated to the artistic community. Additionally, the Green Corridor, a 1.3-kilometer former railway track, which used to be filled with abandoned cars and trash, has now been transformed into a pedestrian path with seating and plants. Both these interventions are a result of “participatory urbanism”, a mission conceptualized by CRA-Carlo Ratti Associati, creators of the Manifesta 14 Prishtina Urban Vision, which allowed citizens to participate in the repossession process of public space.

The 1.3 kilometer former railway track has now been transformed into a pedestrian path with seating and plants. © Ivan Erofeev

During the three preview days before its official opening on July 22nd, the 25 sites around the city opened its doors to partners, media, gallerists and collectors to review the exhibitions, events and performances. The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive regarding the quality of the works, creative power of the local artists, and the hospitality of the people. To memorialize the biennale, PPSE also financed the commissioning of the design and production of limited-edition mementos – scarves, coat and bag, featuring a tableau of Prishtina’s famous venues and views.

The limited edition of wearable souvenirs, commissioned by PPSE and produced in Kosovo, features a tableau of Prishtina’s famous venues and views.  © Atdhe Mulla

Swisscontact’s Promoting Private Sector Employment (PPSE) through its tourism component facilitated Manifesta 14’s press tour, designed to promote the 100 days of the biennale in major international media outlets. The Manifesta 14 programme will take place over 100 days, to be officially concluded on 30th of October, 2022.  

Entrepreneurial ecosystems, Sustainable tourism
Promoting Private Sector Employment
Kosovo has grown moderately at an average rate of 4% in the last few years (pre-COVID 19) and is constantly facing growing labour force, while the labour market falls short of generating the jobs needed to absorb the new entrants (around 30,000 annually). Formal employment makes around 75% of the overall employment, with public sector accounting for 25% of formal jobs. Youth, women, and minorities (particularly the Roma, Ashkali, and Egyptian) remain the most excluded groups. The COVID-19 pandemic did not spare Kosovo’s economy from its devastating impact.