Press Escape to Cancel

Kosova, 1999

“The destruction in Peja was staggering. I walked around and around while loose spouting rang a dirge against itself, and oscillating reflections off plate glass windows, broken and barely attached to their frames, caught my eye, startling me, as they swayed in the breeze.”

book

‘Press Escape to Cancel’ appeared as an essay of photographs and writing inside and on the covers of SPORT 24, Summer 2000, a New Zealand literary journal published by Victoria University Press publisher, Fergus Barrowman.

The essay wove the madness of immediate post-war Kosova with the clinical madness of a Kosova asylum.

I entered Kosova from Macedonia on 19 June 1999, seven days after Nato troops, and hitchhiked about for eight days during the early return of Kosovar Albanian refugees.

exhibition & prints

‘Press Escape to Cancel’ was exhibited first at te tuhi, Auckland, New Zealand, March-April 2002, and toured through 2002-2003 to Rotorua Museum, Rotorua and Sarjeant Gallery, Whanganui.

exhibition & print enquiries

related writings

“My blood is probably even more mixed, but I don't have time to explore it ... being different brought my father a bullet in the head in 1992 in Stolac.” Jabir Derala

I entered Kosova from Macedonia on 19 June 1999, seven days after Nato troops, and hitchhiked about for eight days during the early return of Kosovar Albanian refugees.

The following is one of seven, brief texts, which accompany the images in ‘Press Escape to Cancel’.

 

 ‘Press Escape to Cancel’, the title of this essay, is a repeating line from one of Jabir Derala’s love poems. Jabir is a Macedonian poet, writer and journalist. The other day, I asked him, amongst other things, to describe his ethnicity: “My father is mixed Albanian and Turkish. My mother is mixed Turkish, Croat (Dalmatian) and (a bit) Iraqi. My blood is probably even more mixed, but I don't have time to explore it . . . it’s not a jarring question. I find it very exciting. But, not extraordinary, because we on the Balkans, as the rest of the world, have mixed blood more than we are ready to admit. Somewhere it’s a starting point for beautiful achievements, and somewhere it’s a reason for bloodshed . . . I was raised as a cosmopolitan, a citizen of the world, with love for people, regardless of their backgrounds. I am proud to be different. I am completely aware that it brings trouble very often. Almost always, when we mention Balkans (and, not only) . . . being different brought my father a bullet in the head in 1992 in Stolac. Killed by a Croat. Should I hate Croats, then?! I am a bit of a Croat (25%), too. So, I have to hate a part of myself.”

BRUCE CONNEW / 01.2000

the complete seven texts

 

Press Escape to Cancel #33 / Sign stabbed to the door of a home: behave or we'll be back, Sojeva, June 1999

Press Escape to Cancel #5 / Possessions in a wheelbarrow, Ferizaj, June 1999

Press Escape to Cancel #4 / Unloading possessions into burnt and bullet-pocked home, near Peja, June 1999