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.

Alban Muja, RKS

If you look up when you walk the streets of Prishtina, sooner rather than later you will catch sight of vernacular houses resting atop all manner of buildings, from residential to commercial, from modernist to turbo-capitalist. Such parasitic architectures, to which Alban Muja alludes with his intervention Above Everyone, appear in cities all over the world. Yet to Muja, these quirky embodiments of imaginative resilience have a particular resonance in former Yugoslavian cities like Prishtina. Here, their anarchic presence signals not only the collapse of the socialist housing system, which, at least in theory, guaranteed everyone an affordable home, but also the disintegration of trust in and regard for public institutions, property and space. The artist’s decision to intervene at the former Gërmia department store–a much-loved site of collective memory, recently saved from demolition by public resistance–underscores both the urgency of open debate about the future of public buildings and the appeal of creative resistance.