Street Artist’s Reflect on the Concept of Utopia, Mural Fest Kosovo

Scottish filmmaker Doug Gillen curated Fragments of Utopia, an event that brought together some of the most exciting street artists to transform the city of Ferizaj in Kosovo. This year marked Mural Fest Kosovo‘s eighth edition, inviting participating artists to reflect on the concept of utopia and what it might entail.

UTOPIA-an imagined place or state of things in which everything is perfect.

The program provided a platform for artists to showcase their work and express their unique perspectives on the idea of Utopia. Through their art, the participants explored various themes, such as magical realism, cultural heritage, and the ongoing refugee crisis, among others and presented their visions, inspiring viewers to think critically about the current state of society and imagine a better future.

Participating artists include; Dalal Mitwally, Ian Strange, Lonac, Lucy McLauchlan, Nelio, Octavi Serra, TAXIS and Virgina Bersabe

Dalal Mitwally’s

In response to her workshop with local artists and aficionados, Dalal Mitwally’s created a mural inspired by an imaginary invisible city called Ruby. The city is guarded by an ancient Illyrian dragon and inhabited by fairies and witches. The artist worked with Mural Fest artivists to imagine how the city would function and placed red dots around Ferizaj to signify portals, houses, stores, and buildings of Ruby. The mural symbolises part of our imaginary futures and a deeply rooted past, all placed onto our complex present.

“Being invited to Ferizaj for Mural Fest Kosova to address the topic of Utopia, it’s very easy to retreat to the ideal, a beautiful and magical scene far away from reality. But in some sense, I found more interest in placing this absurd like magic as a way to interact with reality.

The mural is the conclusion of a story of the city, Ruby. An imaginary invisible city that resides in parallel with Ferizaj, inspired by other invisible cities that can be found in Italo Calvino’s book, ‘Invisible Cities’. In Ruby you are greeted by an ancient Illyrian dragon that guards the city and also checks for your visa. As you go up its tree shaped map, you find fairies and witches inhabiting the city.

This was created with Mural Fest artivists as we tried to come up with not only how such a city looks, but how would it function, who would live there, and how can we access it from Ferizaj? After imagining our city, we started to unearth it in Ferizaj by placing red dots that signified portals, houses, stores, and buildings of Ruby.

Eventually, the mural had the biggest red mark which allowed you to enter this imaginary city, a time where our world becomes flipped and we’re in a new place.

Ironically enough, the landscape within the picture, while not being urban and might not signify much at first glance. Within those mountains lies an actual ancient castle that’s also unearthed and invisible to us.

The mural then becomes a multi-layered accumulation of a deeply rooted and nostalgic past while symbolising part of our imaginary futures all being placed onto our resulted complex present.”

Dalal Mitwally


Image copyright Doug Gillen

Virginia Bersabe 

Virginia Bersabe’s mural in Fragments of Utopia is a touching tribute to the often-overlooked contributions of female elders in the role of family and community. Her artwork celebrates the wisdom and experience of these women, who have played a vital role in shaping their communities and passing down traditions from one generation to the next.

Through her mural, Virginia Bersabe reminds us of the importance of recognising and honouring the contributions of women in all aspects of society, and how their influence can create a better world for future generations.

Image copyright Doug Gillen


TAXIS, the Greek artist, created his mural “Neptune’s Lair” to reflect on the ongoing refugee crisis and the views of shorelines as both places of leisure and refuge, regonising the concept of utopia is a complex and a subjective one. The artwork is a poignant tribute to those who were forced to leave everything behind in search of a safer future but never made it to their destination.

“This mural is dedicated to all those people who are forced to abandon everything they have for a safer place and future, but unfortunately never made it through.

About two weeks ago, another tragedy took place in the Greek international waters. 82 people found dead, 104 survived and about 500 people including at least 100 children, are missing. There was no international mobilization to rescue them and they were left in the hands of fate.”



Image copyright Doug Gillen


In his mural titled “UNSTILL”, Croatian artist LONAC showcases his Balkan family’s shared cultural heritage and practices through the depiction of flowers in a tea glass. By offering a contrast to the war-themed artworks in the town centre, LONAC aimed to convey the notion that all religions are more alike than different.

“I knew about most of the Mural Fest artworks before coming to Ferizaj, so I wasn’t that interested in painting another character/figure. Seeing the murals from previous years in person, particularly the ones in the center of the town, pushed me to go in a different direction esthetically and in terms of narrative.
I believe it’s easy to be “seduced” by some darker themes, and visually it can be much more fun to paint something moody and dramatic. Still, the wall in the center of the town needed to go against that ( and I needed to go a bit against myself) and create a contrast to the war-themed artworks.

My idea was to paint something that at first looked more like decorative art, but I also needed to put some storytelling or a metaphor behind the work:
The Balkans have traditionally been an area of turmoil and political instability, thus the name “Powder keg.” Religion, particularly the divide between Eastern Orthodoxy, Islam, and Catholicism, has played a significant role in that instability. This tendency of individuals to associate themselves strongly with a particular group or tribe based on shared religious or ideological beliefs makes them view opposing ideologies as a threat. That leads to hostility, the rejection of alternative viewpoints, and a lack of constructive dialogue.

By painting a still life in falling motion as a continuous pattern, with slight differences in details, I wanted to address both the beauty and instability and convey the idea of being more similar than different.
This idea is a good starting point for a more utopian place which was the theme of this year’s edition.”



Image copyright Doug Gillen

Octavi Serra

Octavi Serra took a conceptual and Absurdist approach to the idea of utopia, seen in the prototype of a hybrid car that features a unique wind energy generator to offset the pollution caused by gasoline combustion. The car’s surface is fitted with many windmills and a suction system to store energy during the journey.

“A new responsible, albeit contradictory, object that consists of a wind energy generator from the pollution generated by gasoline combustion. A small attempt to offset the pollution generated while driving. The design involves the placement of different windmills with a complex suction system on the car’s outer skin to store energy during the journey.”

Octavi Serra


Image copyright Doug Gillen


The artist Nelio’s concept of utopia was creating abstract and geometric forms. His artwork invited the audience to contemplate the idea of utopia through a conceptual lens, encouraging them to think beyond the physical world and imagine a utopic reality.

Image copyright Doug Gillen

Lucy McLauchlan

Lucy McLauchlan approached a series of walls with a distinctive and bold approach. Using abstract and geometric forms, she sought to engage the audience in contemplating the idea of “Utopia” through a conceptual lens. In pursuit of her creative vision, Lucy drew inspiration from the energy and resilience of the local community, skillfully infusing their essence into her artwork.

Image copyright Doug Gillen

Ian Strange

Ian Strange has unveiled a new series that reimagines the histories of land through light. The project is set to launch in its entirety separately later this week. Watch this space!

Mural Fest Kosovo’s Fragments of Utopia

Recap Video

Below, you can find the ultimate RECAP video for Mural Fest Kosovo’s Fragments of Utopia, produced by Doug Gillen of Fifthwall.

Video copyright Doug Gillen

The concept of Utopia is a complex and subjective one, as what may appear perfect for someone may not be ideal for others. The notion of utopia is closely tied to individual perception, values, and beliefs, and as such, it is challenging to define what a utopic future might look like. Mural Fest Kosovo’s Fragments of Utopia was an event that recognised this challenge and seeked to engage with it in a meaningful and diverse way.



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