Björk Speaks Out About Kosovo Controversy

Pitchfork, 4 mars 2008

“I would like to wish all individuals and nations good luck in their battle for independence. Justice !”

This just in : Do not mess with Björk. The Icelandic songstress released a statement today clarifying her position with regard to a pair of recent controversial remarks made during live shows in Tokyo and Shanghai, and by the looks of it she’s holding fast to her beliefs.

Once again, a recap : At a concert in Tokyo, as previously reported, Björk dedicated “Declare Independence” to newly independent Kosovo, leading to friction between the artist and organizers of Serbia’s EXIT Festival (more on that below). In Shanghai this past weekend, according to various reports, Björk dedicated the same song to Tibet, whose struggle for independence from China is well documented. (The Guardian has video of it here.)

Here’s what Björk had to say on the matter :

“I have been asked by many for a statement after dedicating my song ‘Declare Independence’ to both Kosovo and Tibet on different occasions. I would like to put importance on that I am not a politician, I am first and last a musician and as such I feel my duty to try to express the whole range of human emotions. The urge for declaring independence is just one of them but an important one we all feel at some times in our lives. This song was written more with the personal in mind but the fact that it has translated to its broadest meaning, the struggle of a suppressed nation, gives me much pleasure. I would like to wish all individuals and nations good luck in their battle for independence. Justice !”

Furthermore, Björk’s management has stepped forward to counter recent claims made by EXIT Festival representatives that suggest a proposed Björk performance at the festival was not cancelled due to the singer’s Kosovo remarks.

Management shared an email from EXIT’s general manager Bojan Boäkovi, which Boäkovi sent after learning of Björk’s Kosovo dedication. In the email, amid concern for the well-being of festivalgoers and Björk herself, Boäkovi puts forth the following ultimatum (emphasis his) :

“We hope Björk does not relate to Kosovo on other concerts here in Europe, nor in her intervievs, because if she does we need to cancel the concert ; if this happens, we may as well look for some other artist...”

In reference to the Kosovo dedication in Tokyo, the festival manager also asks Björk’s management “to deny that Björk has ever done this.”

“This is a very sensitive issue,” writes Boäkovi in closing.

Björk, however, wasn’t having it, and thus she will not be playing EXIT. That festival, as previously reported, happens July 10-13 at Novi Sad, Serbia’s Petrovaradin fortress. The Sex Pistols, Paul Weller, the Hives, and Nightwish will perform.

Björk, meanwhile, has dates in England and mainland Europe forthcoming. And the video for “Wanderlust” looks pretty cool.

publié dans Pitchfork