The evolving culture of the arts, and the American and multinational presence in Kosovo since the war ended in 1999 will be the foci of a photography exhibit and lecture this fall.
Kosovan native Burim Myftui’s exhibition, titled “Trance,” will be featured in the Dudley and Mary Marks Lea Gallery in the Virginia B. Gardner Fine Arts Pavilion from Sept. 24 to Oct. 20. An opening public reception is scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 3 from 7-8:30 p.m. in the gallery; Myftiu, now an Albanian-American photographer, will speak about the history of the photographs and what they represent at 6:30 p.m. in the arts pavilion’s Pfeiffer Lecture Hall.
Additional information on Kosovo will be offered by Myftiu and U.S. Army Col. Joel Hagy on Tuesday, Oct. 2 at 7 p.m. in Frost Science Center’s Malcolm Lecture Hall. The free, public talk will include perspectives from Hagy’s position as former commander of Camp Bondsteel. Col. Hagy hired Myftiu as his interpreter while stationed in Kosovo.
The “Trance” photography exhibition will portray the Islamic tradition of the Dervish trance ritual. This exhibit will mark the American debut of these 20 contemporary photographs.
According to Myftiu, “Trance” is about Sufi rituals, their philosophy and state of mind. Sufi includes the schools of thought unique to Sufism, a mystical branch within Islam. It has been suggested that Sufi thought emerged from the Middle East in the 8th century. Sufi philosophy, like all other major philosophical traditions, has several sub-branches including metaphysics and cosmology.
Major ideas in Sufi metaphysics have focused on the concept of “unity with God.” In symbolic rituals, dervishes aim to reach the “perfect.” The aim is to abandon one’s personal desires through rituals of dancing, body piercing and listening to God. Myftiu explains the whirling motions performed ‘have been compared to the orbiting of the planets in the solar system. During the piercing, they don’t bleed and don’t feel any pain. They fall in a condition of trance, and I photograph the trance, that state of mind.”
Myftiu has received numerous awards and recognitions, and his work is held by major institutions internationally. He is also the co-founder and director (2005) of DOKUFEST – International Documentary and Short Film Festival. A short documentary about his work, “Missing,” debuted to critical acclaim in 2011. In addition to his artist work, he served as a local interpreter at Camp Bondsteel, a KFOR/U.S. Army base in Kosovo, to help maintain peace between the Kosovars and Serbians after the war’s end in 1999.
Myftiu is represented by Kipa Gallery, New York, He lives in Connecticut. For more information about him, visit his Facebook page.