Burrneshat celebrates the work by both Kosovar and British women artists. The  exhibition will present  British artists: Madame Yevonde, Clare Strand, Abigail lane, Rachel Whiteread, Camilla Løw, Anthea Hamilton, Laura Aldridge, Helen Chadwick, Tracey Emin, Sarah Lucas, Gillian Wearing, Elisabeth Price, Celia Hempton, Lubaina Himid in “conversation” with Kosovo artists: Zake Prelvukaj, Alije Vokshi, Alketa Xhafa Mripa, Arbana Hajredinaj, Rudina Xhaferi, Flaka Haliti and HAVE IT collective.  

Burrneshat exhibition is a result of a two-year long collaboration between five curators and institutions from the Western Balkan, simply titled Perceptions. This truly unique and unusual approach which we initiated and their policies towards innovation in the art world is the unique opportunity for local artists to exhibit side by side with world famous British artists.  

The title of the exhibition is an ironical comment towards discrimination of women that go as far as attributes, while in reality women are truly strong engines that move our society. 

Burrneshat (Burrë = man), literal translation that may be found in the dictionary would be “Sworn Virgins”, referring to certain women in Albania Mountains that live a man’s life.  However, this word has another meaning in Kosovo. The word is more or less used as a compliment for a woman that displays decisiveness, trustworthiness and strength the personality traits supposedly attributed to men. And they don’t shed tears.

Women artists in Kosovo were and still are to an extent, typical examples of gender discrimination. Everywhere, though roughly two centuries ago, women were also left out of the cultural establishments and had to struggle their way into art schools, museums and galleries and gain notable credit. The first Kosovo woman graduated in an art school as late as the 70’s, in a time when creativity of women was still limited to embroidery and knitting. The Collection of the National Gallery of Kosovo is the only publicly owned contemporary art collection. It consists of 1000 artworks that cover the period from 1960s to date.  Now, women are art teachers, artists and employed in art institutions in a satisfactory rate towards equality. Thus, compared to the countries in the region, the situation is more or less the same: women artists are finally being noted in an extremely delayed, but firm pace. Still, the more this social phenomenon is examined, the more questions arise. One that cannot be avoided is: Why is there so much discrepancy between the number of women art students and the number of active graduated women artists? The numbers drop drastically, as the women artists find themselves doing other jobs and raising families. Is being a woman artist too demanding?  

The everlasting war between form and function in which either prevailed for a period of time, resulted with most amazing ideas about the importance of each. Women were and still are to an extent, associated with form and beauty as opposed to men who were pure personifications of function and intellect.

They too have historically undergone processes of change, during which form and function shifted periodically. In a battle- like setting, this exhibition aims to show this shift between roles when a woman is not only a form and a man is not only a function.

Clare Strand, Spice Girl - Sporty Spice 1998 © Clare StrandPicture credit © Courtesy of British Council
Alije Vokshi, Ina, 1972