Giovanni Cocco

Forgotten memories Kosovo’s cultural genocide

curated by Annalisa D’Angelo


Since the end of the Kosovo war in 1999, more than one hundred Christian Orthodox places of worship have been destroyed or looted for ethnic-religious reasons in the self-declared state of Kosovo [2008]. Many important examples of the artistic and cultural roots of contemporary Europe have been lost. Forgotten memories documents the living conditions of the monastic communities that continue to reside in the few Orthodox monasteries still standing, and the efforts of those monks to preserve them.

The heart of this project is the Serbian Orthodox monastery of Decani, declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 2004 and added to the Danger List. The monastery is a true enclave under the protection of KFor (Kosovo Force). The monks live in forced isolation: their reclusion is dictated not just by their choice to abide by the monastic rule, but also by the constant danger they face from outside.

They are not free to wander by themselves, as the risk of being attacked is very high. Ethnic Albanians in Kosovo still perceive the presence of the Serb minority as a remnant of the previous oppression and Orthodox monasteries are seen as symbols which need to be eradicated.

Where memory is erased, places lose their identity, falling prey to injustice and unscrupulous business dealings. It is necessary to let the world know about the situation of the Orthodox monasteries in Kosovo, still living under the threat of the iconoclastic fury of the Albanians. This is vital to grant religious freedom and security – core values of modern democracies – to all the citizens of Kosovo, who have the right to live without fear.


Giovanni Cocco was born in Sulmona, Italy in 1973. After years of photographing Italy from an anthropological perspective, the Italian photographer turned his lens to international social and environmental reportage. He works as a freelance photographer and his work has been published in leading international news magazines. Between 2010 and 2012, he is part of the VII Mentor Program.



ISA – Istituto Superiore Antincendi

From October 11 to 31, 2013

Opening: Friday, October 11, at 6:30 p.m. (conference hall)


ISA – Istituto Superiore Antincendi

Via del Commercio, 13 – 00154 Roma


Visiting hours: Saturday 12 and Sunday 13 October, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

October 14 to 31, from Monday to Saturday, from 4 to 7:30 p.m.

Sunday closed

free admission*


*NOTICE: The ISA is a site of the Home Office. You are required to present a valid ID to access.