Thursday 9 January 2014

Yugoslav Monuments by Jan Kempenaers

The Kosmaj monument in Serbia is dedicated to soldiers of the Kosmaj Partisan detachment from World War II.

Spomenik, The Monuments of Former Yugoslavia 
The brutalist war memorials found throughout the former Yugoslavia were weird enough when they were built in the 1960s and 70s. Today, separated by the end of an architectural movement and the disintegration of the country, they seem almost alien.
Belgian photographer Jan Kempenaers captured Yugoslav monuments as artistic objects in his book, Spomenik, named for the Serb-Croat word for monument.
Thousands of the monuments were commissioned by dictator Josip Broz Tito to commemorate the resistance against Axis invaders during World War II. The abstract style stood in contrast to socialist realism and also served a political purpose.
"Tito couldn't erect figures or busts in honour of generals because he didn't want to be seen to be favouring any ethnic group, for example a Bosnian general or a Serb war hero, so instead they made these things that didn't refer to people." 
Although the monuments, made of reinforced concrete, steel, and granite, used to be tourist attractions, they have receded into obscurity since the fall of the Soviet Union and the Yugoslav Wars. When Kempenaers told locals what he was photographing, he says they thought he was crazy.

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Photography © Jan Kempenaers

The Kruševo Makedonium monument in Macedonia was dedicated to the Ilinden Uprising of 1903,
 when the Macedonian population revolted against the Ottoman Empire.

The monument of Ilirska Bistrica was designed by Janez Lenassi and built in 1965. It is dedicated to Slovenian soldiers that fell in World War II.

The Susanjar Memorial Complex in Bosnia and Herzegovina was created in remembrance of the thousands killed by Germans during the Orthodox festival of Ilindan in 1941.

This monument is in Korenica, on the border of Croatia and Bosnia. It commemorates Yugoslavia's victory in World War II. It has reportedly since been torn down.

This monument, authored by sculptor Miodrag Živković, commemorates the Battle of Sutjeska,
one of the bloodiest battles of World War II in the former Yugoslavia.

Built in 1949, this one was designed by Vojin Bakić and is dedicated
to the fallen fighters of the Yugoslav front.

The Kadinjača Memorial Complex commemorates those who died during the Battle of Kadinjača.

This sculpture was built in 1973 and designed by Bogdan Bogdanovic. It is dedicated to the long mining tradition in Kosovo.

Built in 1963, this monument in Niš, Serbia commemorates the 10,000 people from the area that were killed
during World War II. The three clenched fists are the work of sculptor Ivan Sabolić.

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