Upon the recommendation of a Kosovar colleague, I took the bus to Fushë Kosovë/Kosovo Polje on a late morning in March. I had asked about architecture that exemplified the contemporary socio-economic situation. This is also a highly charged political site within the narrative for the Serb national identity, and the imaginary built around this site has been drawn upon as a backdrop for framing the narrative of the 1990s (Pavlović and Atanasovski 2016).
I entered the site of this mostly defunct factory through a space between a couple of residential buildings. There was one worker and a few horses. They all noticed me but did not seem to mind my presence.
The consistent hum of the industrial buzz is almost pleasant in its tonal structure. This functions as a foundation for the seemingly melodic line of the high-pitched mechanism. It sounds almost like the bowing of a string instrument, an ironic reframing of the sound of the gusle, a traditional instrument often used in the Balkans’ epic poetry and repeatedly reappropriated for national narratives, especially when focusing on this place (Pavlović and Atanasovski 2016). Since the Battle of Kosovo in 1389, the field has been cultivated and stacked as grain in silos. The socialist modernist bard is a grain mill built during the reframing of Pristina as a Yugoslav (or even Serbian) city. Nationalist iconography renders this land as much more than mundane industrialism. Additionally, industrial modernity is not a neutral project.
Part way through the sound work, the musical throughline suddenly breaks. The factory strikes a chord that slowly transforms into noise. In this shift the listener’s proximity to the sound image and sense of immediacy and immersion is unsettled.