For most, the idea of Muslims in Europe has suggested immigrants. This overlooks the fact that in the Balkans there are Muslims who are also historically Europeans. And this week, these ethnic Albanians have declared an independent state of Kosovo which recognizes 5 non-Albanian ethnic groups as equals. Kosovo did an end run around the UN and went straight to the US and the EU who were quick to recognize this new state. The Russians and Serbians have opposed this move. Russia argues that this move will set a dangerous precedent for separatist movements.

Beneath all of this is the fact that ethnic Albanians are Muslim. Of course, the news prefers to call them secular Muslims. Perhaps it softens the blow. It just may be that the idea of Muslim faithful who are historically and ethnically European is just too much. Certainly this is the central thesis of the works of Damir Niksic. His works are rich and full of biting critiques of the relationships between “Europe and Muslims.” I have posted before about his wonderful video “If I weren’t a Muslim” in which he states that if he weren’t a Muslim, “books wouldn’t teach you that I was an error in European history.”

Before the declaration of Independence, Niksic created the Boogeyland Reservation,a website that simultaneously called for an independent Kosovo (just not is so many words) and offered a reason why such a new nation would be resisted — it is a Boogeyland, home of the Boogeyman. Boogeyman. More completely it is known as the Boogeyland Reservation: The Great Psuedo-Moorish Caliphate, which explains in part the use of “Sambo” images and Damirs use of blackface when performs as the Boogeyman. Throughout this website (created from installations and performances) Niksic repeatedly sticks his finger into the wounds surrounding Europe’s relationship with Muslims and tickles us. Perhaps the best example of this is the video “Living in the Boogeyland.” It is both poignantly funny and sad.

Ron Lukens-Bull