Kosovo art show in Belgrade cancelled after attack

BELGRADE (Reuters) - An exhibition of works by Kosovo Albanian artists in Belgrade was shut down on Thursday after a group of Serb nationalists protesting against Kosovo’s independence aspirations attacked the gallery on opening night.

The men from the radical fringe group Obraz (Pride) burst into the gallery hosting the “Exception” art show, tore one painting from the wall and scuffled with patrons and security before getting thrown out.

“They came inside with the guests, then started protesting,” said Ljubica Beljanski Ristic of the gallery. “For security reasons we have decided to close down the exhibition.”

A Reuters witness on the scene said police had cordoned off the area in a central part of the capital.

The exhibition featured video installations and photography by 11 artists who started their career after 1999, when NATO bombed Serbia and expelled its troops from Kosovo to stop the mass killings of civilians during a counter-insurgency war.

The Albanian-majority province is expected to declare independence within weeks. Most Serbs, who see the territory as their religious heartland, oppose a breakaway.

According to the program, the exhibition questions “dominant cultural hegemonies, national and gender identities in the field of visual art which are defined by Balkan particularities... nationalisms, conditions and consequences of Euro-Atlantic integrations and strengthening of neo-liberal capitalism.”

Reporting by Ivana Sekularac and Ellie Tzortzi; Editing by Charles Dick