Category Archives: Culture

Born in Bulqize, Albania, Mira Kaloshi is a young Albanian singer who moved to Belgium together with her family at the age of five. She learned of her ability to sing at a young age and often performed at school and local events. At the age of 14 she started writing her own music and at the age of 16 she decided to learn to play the guitar. These activities provided her with the opportunity to network with a number of people in the music business who helped her become a better singer songwriter. “Those couple of chords that I learned on the guitar helped me to write the music I have today,” stated Mira. After many recorded demos, Nightgames was officially released on her birthday, the 25th of October, 2016. Nightgames was, produced, recorded, and filmed in Antwerp.

Mira Kaloshi: Creating connections through musicMira’s music is inspired by her life experiences as well as a diverse set of music genres. Her music is not limited to any particular genre but is a is a mix of styles such as indie pop, alternative RnB’ and acoustic pop. Another single released, titled Far Away, is written by her and music producer, Wekho. Right now, she is working with different people, trying to put together an EP that will define her style. She anticipates that her EP will be out soon as she has finished working on it. She envisions an EP that is both artistic as well as visually appealing, having a movie feel to it. She notes, “like making people feel like they are watching a movie-trailer instead of just a video clip. That’s what I intended to do with Nightgames in the first place.”


But beside the musical career she is committed and engaged in the diaspora community.  She has been a part of the student committee Vlera, that was created by Albanian-Kosovar students in Belgium a couple of years ago. Vlera is an organization that aims to help Albanian speaking students, such as helping them find internships, or by organizing events to communicate with each other. Currently, Mira is also focused on finishing her studies in Communication. She believes that Albania and Kosovo have some of the most talented people in the world. She considers the art scene in the region to be very vivid, changing and evolving everyday. She hopes that in the near future more art schools will open and more events or festivals will be organized in order to provide a space for many talented artists.

Mira Kaloshi: Creating connections through musicEven though Mira speaks Albanian very well, her songs are in English. She is often faced with the challenge of explaining why she chooses to sing in English. Having grown up in Belgium, she learned English from a very young age and listened to English artists. Therefore, English has become her her native language. She notes, “As much as I love listening to Albanian music, it’s hard for me to make it, because mentally I’m somewhere in the middle between Albania and Belgium right now.” Despite being in English, however, her single Nightgames was released by Albanian radio stations, and TV-stations. Another challenge for Mira is making connections in a country that isn’t her homeland. The specific art scene set in Belgium makes it a difficult place for Mira to develop her career as she envisions it. As a foreigner she finds it hard to be appreciated and recognized for her work.

Besa Neziri Rugova is a fashion designer from Kosovo whose work is characterized by a modern take on traditional elements. After finishing her studies at Parsons School of Design in New York and working at various fashion labels, she launched her own line in 2013. Besa describes her designs as “dreamy, ethereal, whimsical, feminine silhouettes.” Her signature touches are sheer fabrics such as silk organza, tulle and hand-made lace.

From Kosovo to New York, Besa brings authentic designs to the fashion world

© Arton Sefa

The following is an exclusive interview with Besa for KosovoDiaspora.

KD: Can you tell us a bit about your background and the work you do?

Besa Neziri Rugova: I graduated from Art Academy in Kosovo with a major in painting, before I attended The Parsons School of Design in New York, where I received a degree in Fashion Design.

After graduation, I worked in the fashion industry with various labels – where I gained a comprehensive knowledge on garment making and the business side of the industry. This really helped build the confidence to start my own line, something that I always wanted and dreamed of. In 2013, I launched my own line here in New York – with a small capsule collection. Since then, I have been expanding and evolving, as designers do.

Earlier this year, I opened up a studio in Prishtina, where I not only do my production – but I also have a curated showroom where I present my work, and meet clients. I also have private clients, for whom I do custom work as well. At the same time, I’m continuing my work in New York, and gathering inspiration and ideas that feed my artistic soul.

KD: What are some of the projects you working on now?

Besa Neziri Rugova: I just finished up a photoshoot for my new Spring/Summer 2017 collection here in New York, which will be in the store soon.  I have also started working on my Fall/Winter 2017 collection – by putting together my moldboard and initial rough sketches. Beyond that, another ongoing project, which is not that closely related to fashion, is coming to an end soon. I will disclose more information on that in the days to come. I am also back to school to get certified for bespoke men’s tailoring techniques, and I am absolutely in love with this class and learning so much.

KD: How do you see the art and design scene in Kosovo?

Besa Neziri Rugova: I think there are a lot of talented people in Kosovo, but succeeding there is still mostly contingent upon connections rather than merit, which troubles me. While being well connected is an important factor anywhere in the world, it shouldn’t be able to entirely substitute talent. I would love to see this change – and for young, fresh, talent to find more opportunities to present their work. Another challenge I see, quite often actually, is a lack of authenticity when it comes to some fashion designers in Kosovo. I have noticed a tendency to copy other’s aesthetics and ideas, rather than creating ones own. This is something that I find refreshing in New York- the underlying respect in the design community for individual authenticity and allowing others to retain their own ideas for themselves.

Maybe some fashion industry professionals, offering valid, authentic, unbiased critique- is needed to alleviate the above mentioned problems. This could really help improve the overall quality and respectability of the fashion scene in Kosovo.

KD: What are some of the challenges you face as an artist from Kosovo?

Besa Neziri Rugova: To be honest, I never faced specific challenges related to my Kosovar origin. On the contrary, I always felt and feel welcome, and people are genuinely intrigued by our history and country here in the US. In school, I did struggle a bit initially when I got here, due to minimal computer skills, poor English, and the challenges of adapting to a different school system. However, overall, being from Kosovo and another place in general, I really feel like I’ve come to develop a unique style, based on my native culture intermixed with the creative inspiration I access day to day, everywhere I look, being in a city like New York.

KD: How can diaspora members help better the image of Kosovo?

Besa Neziri Rugova: I think we are on the right track here, especially when it comes to the younger generation, represented prominently by Dua Lipa or Rita Ora. It’s important to lead by example, conveying proper values and authentic talent as the key to success, no matter what field you may be in.

To see more of Besa’s designs, check out her Instagram or Facebook page.

Artist-in-Residency Program

Hajde! Foundation presents an Artist-in-Residency Program
in collaboration with the Kosovo Environmental and Education Center (KEERC) in Junik from 31 July – 9 August 2016.  

In collaboration with the Kosovo Environmental and Education Center (KEERC), Hajde! Foundation is offering a cross-disciplinary artist-in-residency program in Junik, Kosovo. Set in the foothills of the National Park Bjeshkët e Nemuna, the residency aims to foster rich collaborations between artists and scientists. The program was founded on the principle that the integration of art, science, community engagement, and education can create innovative and effective ecological interventions.

This is a program for visual artists, writers, musicians, architects and other creative media. The recipient of the residency will stay in Junik for 10 days. Daily expeditions into forests, wildlife sanctuaries, mountains and the research lab will be enriched by biologists, naturalists and experts, rendering this a unique possibility for interested artists for research. Although it is not necessary for the resident to produce work during the program, collaboration with the biologists, nature observers and the local community is highly encouraged. KEERC and Hajde! hope that the residency will facilitate connections of different kinds between all participants and lead to collaborations, new discoveries and new synergies between nature, science and art.

The residency program encourages dialogue between disciplines to bring positive change to the environment and encourage environmental thinking in the region and Kosovo at large. Applicants should have a deep interest in the cross-disciplinary potentials between art and nature and their previous work as well as their planned project should reflect this interest and engagement. Applicants may be emerging or established artists who are able to communicate fluently in Albanian as well as English or German. The recipient should be able to commit to the full period of the residency (31 July – 9 August 2016) and will be provided with a round-trip ticket to Junik from his/her residency in Kosovo, a room and a per diem. A stipend will be provided to cover additional costs for materials. The recipient is invited to give an informal presentation of his/her work to the group of biologists at the beginning of the residency and is free to organize a concluding event at the end of the residency.

Please send your application materials (compiled into one pdf) by 20 July 2016 to [email protected]

  • Artist portfolio (3-5 works that best represent your artistic practice or projects related to the residency).
  • Statement of interest in the program with a short description about your planned research / project / interest in Junik (not more than 700 words).
  •  A short CV.

For more infromation please see:


The historic Stage 48 NYC opened its doors to a sold out crowd on Sunday, March 27, 2016 for Albanian Fashion Week 2016. New Yorkers welcomed international Pop Rock Prince Matteo Brento to NYC’s largest and hottest club in Times Square.

The X-Factor Albania Star, Matteo Brento opened the New York show in front of a packed house of 400 adoring fans with his newest single #21 (Goodbye My Love). The new hit #21 (Goodbye my love) is composed and written by award-winning artist Michele Bisceglia, writer and showrunner of ‘IF, winner of “Best Original Song”. The song is arranged by Alessandro Di Lascia in collaboration with vocal coach Cristina Bisceglia.

Matteo treated the crowd to an evening of greatest classics performing Italian hits like “Caruso” by Lucio Dalla, “L’ultima occasione” by Mina, “La donna cannone” by Francesco De Gregori and “E penso a te” by Lucio Battisti.

“It was truly an honor to perform at the Albanian Fashion Week in New York some of the greatest classics and most beloved Italian songs. Caruso by Lucio Dalla is a classic of Italian music known all over the world. What I respect about a legend like Lucio Dalla is that he is a great artist who is not just writing songs, but he is telling real poems,” said Pop Rock star Matteo Brento.


“Congratulations to Mrika Krasniqi, the organizer of the Albanian Fashion Week in New York for such an incredible and successful event. Albanian Fashion Show is the biggest show in USA for Albanian top designers. A very sophisticated show, a pleasant night and highly entertaining. Thank you for having Matteo Brento as special guest at such a fantastic evening,” said Armando Roberto, Matteo Brento’s manager.

Other highlights of Matteo Brento’s performance included the popular Albanian anthem “Xhamandani vija vija” by Ilirët (composed by award-winning Zef Çoba) and “Summertime sadness” by Lana Del Rey, winner of MTV Music Award and Grammy nominee. The later song “Je Ti” by Albanian superstar Alban Skënderaj was dedicated to X-Factor Albania and Matteo’s worldwide Albanian fans. Matteo Brento first performed “Je Ti” to millions of fans during the live broadcast of the biggest talent competition in Europe, The X-Factor Show.

“It was a dream week! The performance at the Albanian Fashion Week NY was a huge success. The shoot of the music video in New York was amazing,” said superstar Matteo Brento. “It was even more incredible to have known special people. Thank you for treating me like a great artist, a great team! Thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart to everyone! See you soon,” said successful European artist Matteo Brento regarding his debut in United States.

Albanian Fashion Week 2016 is organized by Mrika Krasniqi, founder and CEO of Albanian Fashion Agency and Nil Production in New York. The Albanian Fashion Show presented the best looks from the biggest night in fashion in Manhattan. According to the press release published on the official website of Matteo Brento (, the artist was accompanied by his Italian manager Armando Roberto and his NY Management for the Red Carpet VIP Fashion Show.

“The evening was even more grandiose with Matteo’s performance. It was such a special honor for us to have Matteo Brento at the Albanian Fashion Show. He brought such a classy and warm atmosphere for the public with all the songs that he performed, especially with the ‘Xhamadani Vija Vija’ song. He sang it so well that I got very emotional hearing it,” said Mrika Krasniqi, organizer of Albanian Fashion Week 2016 in New York.

Ambassador H.E. Ylber Kryeziu welcomed Matteo Brento and Armando Roberto to a meet-and-greet at the General Consulate of Kosovo in New York on Monday, March 28, 2016. Matteo Brento said that it was a great privilege and pleasure and thanked Ambassador Kryeziu for the warm welcome and he looks forward to his next projects in Albania and Kosovo.

“I am very excited about my new collaboration with Michele Bisceglia. We are preparing something special for Kenga Magjike in Albania later this year. I would like to present a traditional Albanian song in this great festival to represent the beautiful Albanian culture,” said the internationally known Matteo Brento.

Veton Kurteshi: Taking the love for photography to the next level

Veton Kurteshi has had a soft spot for photography since he was ten, when his father bought him a professional camera.  Now a 25-year old student in Vienna, Veton has built on his love for photography with stunning results.  Whether it is swaths of green valleys, snow capped mountains or beautiful frozen lakes, his photographs capture the essence of nature.


Veton enjoys shooting with long-exposure feature as it is great for photographing stars and the Milky Way. He uses photography to memorialize moments and share the beauty of nature with others.  He is currently working on a photographing the Semmering Railway, which is the first mountain railway in Europe constructed in the middle of the 19th century under the guidance of Carl van Ghega.  Veton reminds us that Ghega was born in Italy in an Albanian family.


Veton wants to counter negative stereotypes of his homeland in Austria by showcasing the magnificent landscapes of Kosovo.

To see more of Veton’s amazing shots, check out his Instagram.

With a Cup of Sugar is a story about Kosovo and its people. It shows the country’s attempts at building a stable future through friendship, exchange, recognition abroad, and its unique relationship with the U.S. state of Iowa. The producer and director, Luke T. Harwath has launched a Kickstarter campaign, and needs your help to spread the word to make this film a reality.


Luke T. Harwath is an experienced filmmaker. He has produced and directed numerous films around the world. His projects range from depicting disaster zones in Southeast Asia to showcasing Sake Breweries and post-tsunami life in Japan. He has been commissioned to work for the President of China and is currently hoping to complete ‘With a Cup of Sugar’ in Kosovo.

With a Cup of Sugar, however, is only going to be possible with your involvement. Please spread the word and help Luke’s team reach their goal of $48,000 on the Kickstarter campaign. You have until Wednesday, 24th February to contribute to this great project and help share Kosovo’s culture and beauty with the world.

Rona’s Musical Journey with Albanian Motives

“Me motive tonat” is the new album release by Rona Nishliu, our renowned Kosovar artist and former Eurovision performer who received the highest score that Albania has ever achieved in Europe’s greatest music contest.

Her new project (to be found here: is the final cycle of research and transformation that Rona Nishliu has applied to classics of Albanian urban music, dating back from the late 14th century. What started as her personal search of the roots of Albanian musical heritage, of the original emotions or sins that led to the creation of the songs, in the quasi academic setting of piano-and-vocals duo experimentation, has now matured into a musical show that transcends traditional content through fusion with Free Jazz, Trip Hop and Soul, offering a unique and refreshing blend of Balkan sounds.

“Me motive tonat” deconstructs ethnicity through the search for connections between different schools of music and by exploring the inner workings of traditional national songs, which to the ancient Balkan people are larger than life and official history books.

“Me motive tonat” rearranges the architecture of traditional Albanian music in a constant search for connections to today’s world, it maps and reinterprets cultural milestones, and questions the accepted national and social role of music and entertainment.

The project is presented through the following products:
• Music Album (9 songs)
• Documentary (40 min)
• Music Videos (9 videos)
• Live Concert (1 hour, possibly up to 75 min)

All these products may be presented separately, and also through a single package for everything, in the form of the so-called Music Cloth, a stylized handkerchief with a 8GB USB attached. The Music Cloth is our substitute to the conventional CD and DVD, and we hope it will be able to convey more of the spirit and intent of this project.

The intention is to penetrate the World Music Scene and create opportunities for representation of Kosovar culture on International Jazz and World Music Festivals and other venues, as well as across the whole range of traditional and social media.

Support Kosovo in UNESCO

Support Eroll Bilibani in his petition:“Kosovo in UNESCO for guaranteed protection of its rich and diverse cultural heritage.”

For Kosovo to move closer to membership, the majority of the 58 UNESCO executive board members need to vote in favor on 22 October 2015. To support this initiative please sign and share this petition HERE.

To learn more please check Kosovo in UNESCO

Wiki Loves Monuments is an international photo contest for monuments running this September, organized by Wikimedia globally, as well as FLOSSK in Kosovo and Open Labs Albania.

Cultural heritage is an important part of the knowledge that Wikipedia collects and disseminates. Everybody can contribute images as well as write articles. An image is worth a thousand words, in all languages at once, and enthusiastic people can (re)discover the cultural, historic, and scientific significance of their neighborhoods by uploading photos to Wikimedia.

In 2012, Wikipedia volunteer communities in 35 countries joined this initiative. In 2014 nearly 40 countries all over the world are participating through national contests organized with their national monuments, partners, rules, events and winners.

The organizers – FLOSSK from Kosovo and Open Labs from Albania – through digital access to cultural monuments, want to promote the cultural heritage of the respective countries to the world. 

Every national contest, including the ones in Albania and Kosovo, will be able to nominate 10 of their winning photos to the international contest. These nominated photos will be judged by an international jury, which will then award extra prizes to the best images from all participating countries.

The list of monuments of both countries is already published in the official website of the project, including the rules, requirements and the detailed description of this competition at After the end of the competition on 7 October, 10 best photos will be selected from each country – Kosovo and Albania. These photos, in November,  will be sent to the international competition and will be judged by the global community.

FLOSSK is organizing several information sessions in Prishtina, Mitrovica, Prizren, Gjakova and Gjilan during the period September 28 to October 1 to explain the rules, demonstrate the upload process and answer questions from potential participants. To provide access to selected heritage sites and ease the journey, three guided photography excursions will be held in the weekend of October 3-4. To attend these activities please see the details here.

FLOSSK ( in Kosovo and Open Labs ( in Albania are non-profit organizations, established in order to support, promote and develop, among other things, free access to knowledge and culture.

The competition is supported by the Kosovo Institute for the Protection of Monuments of the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports.

Illustration photos