Manifesta purposely strives to keep its distance from what are often seen as the dominant centres of artistic production, instead seeking fresh and fertile terrain for the mapping of a new cultural topography.


Education: education and community spaces

In 2021, the Municipality of Prishtina decided that the abandoned former Hivzi Sulejmani library would be rehabilitated to become one of Manifesta 14’s headquarters under the name of the Centre for Narrative Practice.

The process of restoration is never limited to the refurbishment of buildings, it brings up histories and draws attention to the relationship between space and memory. What do we choose to keep, to restore, to rehabilitate and to remember, and what do we decide to eliminate?

Archival documentation on the history of the library was extremely limited, so the education team of Manifesta 14 decided to approach the rehabilitation of the space by activating social processes, such as engaging with its collective memory. Foundation Shtatëmbëdhjetë was invited to help in (re)building this knowledge by exploring the different stories and recollections of people who worked in the institution throughout the years, members of the library, its visitors and the citizens of Prishtina. The research resulted in a publication and an idea of OAZA, a community space in a former reading room of the library.

The name OAZA comes from the magazine and the youth literary club based in its premises, that brought to light in 2000s the whole generation of writers, poets and critics. “Oaza” aimed to be a space, which would make possible another form of expression, as a self-liberation, often referred to as the “oasis of tranquility”. The editors of the magazine were saying: “Now should start the period of ‘normalcy’, where it needs to be understood that literature has done its job in the national identity creation, the national history and the leading of liberation wars, and literature should be given back to the art of writing.”

OAZA opened at the Centre for Narrative Practice in July 2022 as a community-based library project. The core of the library is a collection of books dedicated to diverse topics repeatedly addressed throughout the pre-biennial research process. These are gathered by a group of local specialists and activists with the contribution of the city inhabitants, following an inclusive and intergenerational approach that questions the hierarchies of knowledge. In 100 days the team of OAZA managed to create a welcoming social environment with diverse programme of collective activities ranging from reading sessions and self-publishing workshops to community games.

After the closure of the biennial, OAZA space continues its mission within the Centre for Narrative Practice building a programme upon collaborations established in Manifesta 14 as well as new projects.