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.

Nimon Lokaj, RKS

Nimon Lokaj appears in Robert Elsie’s authoritative Historical Dictionary of Kosovo. The entry is rather brief. A graduate of the Academy of Figurative Arts in Belgrade, Lokaj, we learn, was widely exhibited in Kosovo and Yugoslavia in the 1970s and in Europe in the 1980s.

He is associated, so Elsie continues, with pointillism and a “fondness for nature”. Neither here nor elsewhere is much mention to be found on the overt surrealism of Lokaj’s landscapes.

Was his ecological thinking influenced by Gregory Bateson’s Ecology of Mind, widely read at the time in many parts of the world? Or perhaps by André Breton’s earlier proto-ecological critiques of “scientific man” and “economic man” in his various surrealist manifestos?

The dearth of literature on Lokaj’s practice not only makes it difficult to answer such questions, but also shows that he was peripheral, somehow out of step with his contemporaries. Today, however, his eco-surrealist explorations of “entangled life” and “becoming forest” are finding a renewed resonance.