Alketa Xhafa Mripa is a Kosovo born conceptual artist and activist.
After spending her childhood in Kosovo where she completed her primary and secondary education, Alketa came to London in 1997 to study Fine Art at Central Saint Martins, before going on to study History of Art at the Tate Modern, London.
Arriving as a student, Alketa became a refugee when the 1998-1999 Kosovo war broke out.
Since then she has displayed her multi-faceted work in exhibitions across Europe including Berlin, London, Italy, Portugal and her native Kosovo, where she gained wider recognition for her art installation ‘Thinking of You’,
In ‘Thinking of You’, Alketa used a Kosovan football stadium as her canvas, which she painted with thousands of donated dresses in a powerful tribute to survivors of sexual violence, aiming to pierce the silence surrounding wartime rape. Kosovan President Jahjaga was the first to donate a dress, praising the solidarity and support the art work generated for the women.
Taking multiple forms, including films and installations, paintings and photography, her art promotes women’s liberation and independence, shining a spotlight on the reductionist behaviour of oppressive societies.
In her current, ongoing work, titled ‘Refugees Welcome’, Alketa seeks to recreate the welcoming feeling she herself experienced when she was new to the UK. Transforming the inside of a 1970s decked-out truck into a seemingly welcoming area for individuals to share their own experiences and thoughts on how refugees should be welcomed, Alketa has created a space that serves as both a reminder of the darker side of the refugee experience and an invitation to imagine a brighter future.
Ahead of presenting the installation at the second Refugees Welcome Here March in London on 17th September 2016, Alketa says:
‘Art may not be a solution for the millions of people in the world who have lost their homes. But I believe that art can make the issue of refugees visible, in a way that is understood by all, regardless of faith, nationality or language. Where language fails, art can break through. People have known about the use of rape as a weapon of war in Kosovo for a long time, but when I hung 5000 dresses in a football stadium there last year, they couldn’t look away. They were faced with the reality! Refugees Welcome will be a window into the welcoming Britain I remember – a safe space where people from all backgrounds can come in, have a sit down and share a story. I hope you can join me.’
Between 1991 to 2001 various conflicts were fought on the territory of former Yugoslavia. The wars accompanied the breakup of the country and are generally considered to be a series of largely separate but related military conflicts occurring in and affecting most of the former Yugoslav republics, including Croatia and the multi-ethnic Bosnia and Herzegovina.
There was a 71% increase in asylum applications from 1990 to 1991, due to an increase in applications from Zaire, Angola, Pakistan and Ghana. The pressure of these rising numbers and increased demand upon housing and welfare in areas of settlement led to the introduction of a more coordinated approach. The 1993 Asylum and Immigration Appeals Act therefore became the first piece of primary legislation in the UK to deal specifically with asylum. It was designed to increase decision making and deal with the backlog of asylum cases. It introduced finger-printing for asylum seekers, reduced rights to housing, denied entry to those who had travelled via a ‘safe third country’, and made it compulsory to apply for asylum on arrival.