‘Organising is art’

Meet Nita Qahili, arts organiser
Nita Qahili
Nita Qahili

When she was about ten years old, her art teacher thought it was time for her to curate her first exhibition. Aged 26, Nita Qahili now runs her own art gallery in Pristina, Kosovo, and studies to get a Master’s at Art, Culture and Society at Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication (ESHCC). Here, she is part of the team organising a student conference on pop music on 25 May 2018.

At elementary school I had this amazing teacher who loved kids and always tried to make them feel good,’ Nita recalls, ‘If he saw you loved something, he would encourage you to pursue it. He noticed I was good at art, and put me in charge of organising the school exhibition.’

For two days, Nita ran up and down to put her classmates’ paintings in the best places of a huge room. It proved to be focal point of a show that would set her career for many years to come: throughout her youth, she ended up organising events, mostly art-related. After graduating in Arts and Philology at the university of Pristina, she turned to the Erasmus University to obtain a Master’s in Art, Culture and Society.

Galeria Qahili

Nita did not come to Rotterdam without prior experience. Having an artist father who had always dreamt of having his own studio, Nita and her family opened one of Pristina’s first private galeries in 2013, Galeria Qahili. ‘Since then I have been managing the gallery, organising artistic events, artists’ talks, symposiums and exhibitions. With this gallery, we want to have impact on society.’

‘Art and culture are not that developed in Kosovo,’ Qahili notes. ‘People would rather buy an expensive car than a valuable work of art. We want to get people interested; to appreciate their own cultural traditions.’ The mixture of the six ethnicities that are represented in the flag of post-war Kosovo has the power to make the country vibrant, Nita believes. To help the artists advance their work and develop new projects, the gallery invites artists from around the world, but also from the region.

Organising is art

You may think a student managing a gallery abroad would not have any spare time left, but Nita loves organising so much, she soon started searching for art events to organise in Rotterdam. Like her work at the gallery, the upcoming student conference on pop music is meant to bring people together and highlight the role of music in society.

‘Organising is also an art form to me,’ Nita admits, ‘You have to come up with something new all the time. Many artists do not like planning events - it can be difficult, because it detaches you from the process of artistic production. Like a curator, who needs to step back and look from a distance, the organiser has a different role to play.’

New York, Kosovo

‘While it's great to be a curator at the gallery in Pristina, it would be my dream to work as a curator or art manager at the Guggenheim or MoMa in New York for a few years. But in the end, I would always go back home. I would love to run my own museum in Kosovo.’


3rd Annual student conference Research in Music

"On May 25th, 2018, we will hold our third annual student conference on music research at Erasmus University Rotterdam. This one-day event will offer a series of panels presented by students at all levels of their academic career. At the end of the day, we will also announce the prize for the winners of the BA and MA Popular Music Thesis Award, organized and presented by IASPM Benelux and VNPF (Vereniging Nederlandse Pop Podia en Festivals). Finally, Dr. Renee Timmers (University of Sheffield) will give a keynote on Synchronisation and Communication in Ensemble Performance, followed by a ‘demonstration’ by Jaco van den Dool."

More information in the Facebook event here

3rd Annual student conference Research in Music