Off Walls Off Pedestals

Have You Been to War, That You Could Easily Painted the War that Happened Thousands of Miles Away?

Posted in Other Works by tsabri on March 30, 2010

Sometime in 1999, I was invited by the Yayasan Kesenian Perak (YKP) ( to participate in an art exhibition with a theme of the Kosovo Conflict.

Kosovo 1

Image Kosovo 1 from

Refer; The term Kosovo War or Kosovo Conflict is used to describe two sequential and at times parallel armed conflicts in Kosovo: 1. Early 1998[1]–1999: War between Yugoslav police forces, Yugoslav paramilitaries and the Yugoslav military, and the Kosovo Albanian rebel guerillas. 2. 1999: 1999 NATO bombing of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia between March 24 and June 10, 1999,[19] during which NATO attacked Yugoslavia, and Albanian militants continued battles with Yugoslav forces, amidst a massive displacement of population in Kosovo estimated to be close to 1 million people.

Kosovo 2

I turned down the invitation after a few days of difficulties in concluding on what I should do for such thematic exhibitions. I then wrote a letter to a Kosovo artist (or anybody in Kosovo)_ but the letter was never sent, as it was a letter that meant to be ‘something else’!

Image Kosovo 2 from and Kosovo 3 from I published here the letter in both Bahasa Melayu and English;

Surat untuk Saudara ku di Kosovo,

Saudara, mungkin aku kenal kamu. Ya, aku pernah dengar suara mu, membaca puisi-puisi patriotik di Pekan Seni Ipoh III di Ipoh, Perak pada tahun 1998. …mungkin kau sudah mati sekarang… bom memang memusnahkan, bukan saja di Kosovo, tetapi tentu di mana-mana pun.

Dan, bagaimana harus aku luahkan perasaan mu? Aku tidak pernah berperang _ yang bersenapang, berkereta kebal dan bom… Bagaimana harus aku melukis kamu dan kemudiannya memperagakannya untuk penonton melihat senapang, kereta kebal dan bom? Bagaimana harus aku?

Tsabri, seorang artis Malaysia. 1999

Kosovo 3

Letter to my Brother in Kosovo,

Brother, perhaps I knew you. Yes, I’ve heard your voice – reading the patriotic poems at the Pekan Seni Ipoh III, Ipoh, in 1998. …perhaps you are dead now… the bombs are deadly of course, not only in Kosovo, but everywhere else.

And, how could I express your feelings? I never experienced any war _ the ones with guns, tanks and bombs… How am I to draw you and later display it for people to witness the guns, tanks and bombs? How am I?

Tsabri, a Malaysian artist. 1999

Have you been to Kosovo?

The Letter


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