Serbian Artistic Heritage in Kosovo and Metohija : identity, significance, vulnerability
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The readers of this Catalogue and the visitors of the exhibition Serbian Artistic Heritage in Kosovo and Metohija: Identity, Significance, Vulnerability will be able to discern its essential aims and messages. They have been elaborated and explained in the Collection of Papers to be published during the exhibition. However, we feel that a brief clarification of the selection criteria and the presentation is in order here as well. From the outset the exhibition was conceived in two segments. The aim of the first was to once again remind the Serbian and international public of the fact that the Serbs have inhabited the territory of Kosovo and Metohija for over a thousand years, since the time of Stefan Nemanja to the present day continuously fostering diverse artistic activities that have produced a remarkably rich artistic heritage. In this vast treasury of art, the works created owing to the efforts of Serbian rulers, members of the nobility and highranking church dignitarie...s are, of course, particularly notable for their beauty and artistic value. Many of them were destroyed a long time ago; some are now kept in international collections; and many monuments are immovable cultural properties that could not be displayed except as copies or video presentations based on the latest technology. Nevertheless, the masterpieces of Serbian art from various development periods are by no means underrepresented here. The exhibition, however, is not anthological in character; instead, it aims to present a comprehensive and unembellished picture of the Serbian artistic heritage in Kosovo and Metohija. Hence, in addition to exhibits of extraordinary esthetic value, it also includes those of a more modest artistic merit which nonetheless bear testament to the willpower and survival efforts invested in preserving the continuity of artistic creation in the difficult Ottoman period of Serbian history. To offer a comprehensive picture of Serbian art in Kosovo and Metohija, the exhibition also showcases selected 20th-century paintings and sculptures by artists who were born in this area. At the first glance and out of the context elaborated above, it might seem that some exhibits do not belong to the field of visual and applied art: monastic charters, typika and beadrolls; ktetorial and funerary inscriptions; various acts of administrative, civil and economic law; and other documents of a similar nature that bear witness to the deep roots of the Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija and their achievements in all spheres of life, which paved the way for the creation of art. No less informative are the incidental notations in manuscripts made by both humble scribes and the highest church dignitaries about their day-to-day affairs and troubles and sometimes even about major events in far-off lands. Valuable evidence on daily life in the medieval period is also found in the selected archeological material collected in various excavations, particularly in Novo Brdo; the group of items from the extensive collection of ethnographical heritage of Kosovo and Metohija offers a glimpse into the urban life of Serbs in this area in the second half of the 19th century. The monumental icons of enthroned Jesus Christ and the enthroned Virgin painted by Longin, a Peć monk and one of the leading Serbian artists from the period of Ottoman rule, have been given pride of place at this exhibition. Made for one of the iconostases in the Church of Christ Pantokrator of the Dečani Monastery, they have been transferred from the monastery treasury to the National Museum in Belgrade and subjected to extensive conservation and restoration works. Although their conservation treatment has yet to be completed, they are displayed here to highlight the importance of the care and commitment of the relevant institutions of the Republic of Serbia and the Serbian Orthodox Church to the preservation of the cultural heritage of Kosovo and Metohija. Underlining the extraordinary importance of the cultural treasures displayed here for the nation that created them, the exhibition also shows how natural and necessary it is for our institutions to remain involved in its protection. In view of the antagonistic and even destructive attitude of the local Albanian community towards the Serbian artistic heritage, this need is more pressing than ever. The centuries-long history of this attitude is documented in a separate segment of this exhibition – a selection of photographs that provide unambiguous testimony about this continued destruction, which has intensified and become increasingly ruthless in the closing years of the 20th and the first years of the 21st century. This exhibition would not have been possible without the help of numerous institutions and individuals, colleagues and friends. It is our great pleasure to name at least some of those whose efforts went beyond the call of duty and professional commitment and whose dedication warrants wider acknowledgements than those provided in the impressum of this catalogue: first of all, Academician Vladimir S. Kostić, President of SASA, who first suggested this idea and then, as the Chairman of the Organizing Committee, did everything in his power – at times, it seems, even more than that – to ensure the best possible presentation of this exhibition. We are also indebted to the other members of the Organizing Committee, particularly Academician Gojko Subotić for his helpful advice and suggestions. His Eminence Teodosije, Bishop of Raška-Prizren and Kosovo- Metohija, has bestowed his blessings and facilitated the display of many works of ecclesiastical art whose absence would have made this exhibition far less comprehensive. Deacon Vladimir Radovanović, Director of the Museum of the Serbian Orthodox Church, and Bojan Popović, Curator of the Gallery of Frescoes, did everything in their power to provide and prepare the exhibits owned by the Serbian Orthodox Church and the Gallery of Frescoes. We have enjoyed the full support and assistance of Rada Maljković, Curator at the Gallery of SASA, and Jelena Mežinski Milovanović, Deputy Director at the Gallery of SASA. The conservation-restoration treatment of many important exhibits is the result of the diligent efforts of Milodarka Kocev, Conservator- Advisor at the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments, and Radovan Piljak, Conservator-Advisor at the National Museum of Belgrade. Editorial secretaries Marka Tomić Đurić and Bojana Stevanović, copy editors Ivana Ignjatović and Miljana Protić, and Miroslav Lazić (graphic design and prepress) have shown remarkable dedication in the preparation of this Catalogue. We are especially indebted to the contributors who accepted the daunting task of writing catalogue descriptions in a short time. Nenad Makuljević and Srđan Marković have provided invaluable assistance in the selection of more recent artworks.
Keywords:Serbs / Kosovo and Metohija / cultural history / cultural monuments / Srbi / Kosovo i Metohija / kulturna istorija / spomenici kulture / izložbeni katalog
- Belgrade : SASA
- Gallery of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts ; 141