Erected in bucolic fields in the middle of nowhere, spomeniks ― which means ‘monuments’ in Serbo-Croatian ― look like alien docking stations, Star Trek props or Rick Owens furniture. Commissioned by ‘third way’ Balkan boss Josip Broz Tito back in the day to commemorate World War II battle sites, these slick slabs resist traditional ideas of what a war monument should be.
Tito tapped avant-garde architects and artists of the Yugoslav cultural movement, such as Dušan Džamonja, Vojin Bakić, Miodrag Živković, Iskra Grabul, etc., to design them with tons of physical-visual gusto demonstrating the confidence and strength of the once unified Socialist Republic.
The spomeniks and brutalist beasts are basically ginormous sculptures with sci-fi qualities — huge, hardcore and totally hypnotizing. They are totem-like monoliths that embody abstract forms, axiomatic lines, convex contours and jagged geometries that appear to be engineered by extraterrestrials.
We love them for their intergalactic edge, indefinable essences and wide-body wingspans. Built as tributes to a now-forgotten egalitarian future free of ethnic divisions, fascism and sectarian strife, the architecture represents a romanticized, pluralistic ideal that almost steps outside of time.
The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in NYC will open the exhibition, titled Toward a Concrete Utopia: Architecture in Yugoslavia, 1948–1980, next month. The works will include more than 400 drawings, models, photographs, and film reels culled from an array of municipal archives, family-held collections, and museums across the region, introducing the awesome structures of socialist Yugoslavia’s leading architects to an international audience for the first time. Contributors include Bogdan Bogdanović, Juraj Neidhardt, Svetlana Kana Radević, Edvard Ravnikar, Vjenceslav Richter, Milica Šterić, etc.
From the sculptural exterior of the White Mosque in rural Bosnia, to the post-earthquake reconstruction of the city of Skopje based on Kenzo Tange’s Metabolist design, to New Belgrade with its expressive large-scale housing blocks and civic buildings, the show will examine the unique range of forms and modes of production in Yugoslav architecture and its distinct yet multifaceted character. We’re stoked.
Toward a Concrete Utopia: Architecture in Yugoslavia, 1948–1980 opens on July 15, 2018
Images via the MoMA + Jan Kempenaers
Text Aleksandra Di
VIVISXN MEDIA – Art + Fashion + Yugoslavia + Pop Culture + 深度学习 + AI + Machine Learning + Aleksandra Di + Bogdan Bogdanović + Juraj Neidhardt + Svetlana Kana Radević + Edvard Ravnikar + Vjenceslav Richter + Milica Šterić + MoMA’s ‘Toward a Concrete Utopia’ + Anna Kats