Artist climbs Mt Triglav to examine her national identity

Ljubljana – A Slovenian-born drama student of African-Hungarian descent has climbed Mt Triglav, one of the main Slovenian symbols, to claim her Slovenian identity by carrying a head of the Kurent carnival costume, another powerful Slovenian symbol, up to the country’s tallest mountain, “the altar of Slovenian identity”.

Lina Akif, born in Maribor in 1995, started her two-day journey in Ljubljana last Thursday, with the ascent taking the form of stops modelled on the Passion of Jesus.

Akif climbed Triglav “with the burden of the colour of her skin, with a constant burden of having to prove her national allegiance and identity”, says a press release from the Fotopub gallery, a co-producer of the project together with the Ljubljana Academy of Theatre, Radio, Film and Television (AGRFT).

Her burden, symbolised by the Kurent’s head, which she carried on her back as a mule, transcends the issue of Slovenian identity because it examines identity in a broader context, the release adds.

Akif based her Slovenian Passion project on her experience – being of Sudanese-Hungarian descent while born in Slovenia, she regularly faces problems related to the colour of her skin.

This prompted her to present her experience in a sociopolitical arena and explore her own attitude towards the homeland.

While she is aware she cannot change the situation in the homeland with an art project, Akif believes she can get rid of feeling alien in her own country.

At the same time she wants to challenge “the society’s wrong views” that a shade of one’s skin automatically make an individual a member of a certain nation or race.

The author and her accompanying team sang folk songs while ascending Triglav, a 2,864-metre peak in the Julian Apls, while the Kurent’s head replaced the cross.

The project is Akif’s master’s studies graduation performance, which she created under the mentorship of her AGRFT Professor Boris Ostan.

An intermedia installation based on the footage of the project will be put on display at Fotopub in Ljubljana in October.