Containporary

Curator/EXHIBITOR Maksut Vezgishi, Pavilion Of The Republic Of Kosovo. Earth is Home / The role of urbanization is to create sustainable environments that bond humans with Nature and it is part of planetary biodiversity. Hence, this is the noblest mission of architecture. Global urbanization is in expansion: population growth, constructions of megastructures (housing, economy, communications, etc.). The process involves countries and societies where every decision—making has a global impact, thus lack of sustainable planning places Earth at risk. The most acute issue is the global warming crisis. We lack the awareness and coordinated actions in order to avoid the effects of climate disaster. Today we learned that no human action can be viewed as an individual anymore.

Çeşme / Fountain

Because the greatest happiness in the world was to witness this world…

They call me ‘çeşme’; this word is assumed to originate from ‘çeşm’/’eye’ in Persian meaning fountain.

The name of the fountain, thus, was given to the small structures such as spring, eye in which the water poured.

I was born in Prizren in the 17th century.

I sprang to life on a square stone cut out of marble, one meter long, and an octagonal shape made of the same stone on my upper part. 

I have been here since I was born, always at the same place, right in the heart of town.

Although I do not remember the exact date of my birth, I know that when I was born, soldiers wearing various clothes, people speaking different languages, priests and imams did stand by me to rest and drink my water before leaving the city. Without exception, people from different walks of life were drinking water with their bowls. I was indeed an element that brought close those people together.

After a while, I began to be used as a place not only for drinking water but also for people to meet each other. People gather around me routinely; they sang, cheered, and even sometimes witnessed tragic events – watching the execution of people.

Over the years, the faces, the people, the clothes, and even the architecture that surrounds me started to evolve, however, all of these various elements found a way to coexist.

Since I was in the center of the city, there were jewelers, gunsmiths, craftsmen (carpenters) who made carved wood ornaments, along with many others, like those of antiquarians, cookers, and so forth. There was another square like this (Sadrvan) in the city where I exist – Arasta Square/Bazaar. 

In this square, there were also places for saddlers and cutlers as well. The Grand Bazaar, in particular, was extremely fascinating and prosperous. The bazaar extended from the Arasta Bridge that placed in the center to the Arasta Mosque.

This bazaar was destroyed in the 1960s, but instead, international-style collective housing and public buildings were subsequently constructed. I was greatly concerned by the destruction.

 The bazaar was substituted by high-rise buildings, uncommonly composing several houses inside were widely considered to be my new neighbors.

People were using the same entrance door to enter the building, and the same stairs and corridors to go into their houses, as a result, completely detached from the soil/ground.

What would be my situation if the bazaar I was living in succumbed to modernism?

Would I be torn apart and thrown into a corner?

Or would my thrown-out parts contribute to the construction of the buildings?

Would there be a part of me that continues to exist in any of the structures?

My future was to be the only architecture detached from its context in Arasta bazaar?

Would that be true, as Marshall Berman said, ‘The tragic irony of modernist urbanism is that its triumph has helped to destroy the very urban life that he hoped to set free.’

It was obvious that there was something changed. The great majority of people began their works in large buildings called factories in the early morning hours.

At the same time, the opening of railways led to both the growth of trade and the increase of the working population of the city.

In the meanwhile, it was not hard to see that we were starting to economically develop.

After a while, everything started all over again due to the war happened in 1998-1999. 

It is undeniable that due to a lot of advantages to living in a city, people from the countryside have been attracted to the cities. People, thus, left their home villages and migrate to the cities in search of a better life.

Such migrations created a need for new residential areas. Having witnessed so many destruction right in front of me, new ones already started to increase. Many buildings that had witnessed history with me were destroyed, and concrete jungles with high density took their places through disrespectfully way not only to environment but also to humankind.

I recall that poet Alfred de Musset criticized his living age had no impress of its own.

‘Our age has no style of its own. We have impressed the seal of our time neither on our houses nor our gardens, nor on anything that is ours. The houses of the wealthy are curio-cabinets: the antique, the gothic, the style of the Renaissance, that of Louis XIII, all pell-mell. 

In short, we have every century except our own – a thing which has never been seen at any other epoch. So that we live surrounded by debris.’

Looking over what he complained about as if he were predicting the age at which we are going to experience.

People also worked day and night to be able to buy the apartments which are unlit, exposed to polluted air, unsuitable to human scale, to bring themselves fairly close to depression and death in such buildings. Terrifyingly, a regular working irregularity was established, and everyone was willing to spend their lives on that whole goal. Implausible!

However, there was something promising though. All these people regardless of social classes they belong to – economically, culturally, ethnically, and intellectually – gathered and spent their time together in bars and cafés around me.

They appeared to have been searching for a way out of the system that is already in place.

Maybe that would be despair, I do not know.  

As we go back to me after that, people no longer need such a meeting place due to the extensive use of smartphones and the Internet. But I still cannot say that I am entirely forgotten.

Moreover, even though I am still remembered by someone, the people drinking water with their bowls clearly disappeared. 

I have been thinking about what happened to those people?

Is there anything else that might replace water?

In the course of time, I have seen people around me holding the water in plastic bottles.

My essence was got stuck in some kind of form. 

The water was given a shape!

People are able to carry the water in their bags, and they do not get wet by holding it in their hands.

They unknowingly hold two different concepts in their hands: Plastic, which is produced by human but could not be eradicated since the industrialization and water, which is the essence of nature.

Instead of my primary function, I have transformed into a lot of stuff like some kind of sculpture, a monument, an ornament in the city square. People from different cultures stood in front of me over the small squares of the ground and was keeping look at me.

The life and existence of every great, beautiful and useful building, as well as its relation to the place where it has been built, often bears within itself complex and mysterious drama and history. They were, therefore, making up stories for me that I did not even know about.

There is an old proverb saying ‘whoever drinks water from me will have to find it difficult to leave the city’. 

Everything has changed.

The church, mosque, and the Stone Bridge in my view and I were watching what was going on. Both life experiences and everything was seen and learned were a huge blessing to the people, no matter how painful they were. Because the greatest happiness in the world was to witness this world.