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September 18, 2017 8:54 AM   Subscribe

Spomenik Database: An exploration of Yugoslavia's historic and enigmatic endeavor into abstract anti-fascist WWII monument building from 1960 to 1980. During the zenith of communist Yugoslavia under Josip Broz Tito, over a thousand monuments, or spomeniks, were commissioned to not only honor the many who died in the fight against fascism in World War II, but to help forge a new national identity that transcended ethnic and religious divisions, while also rejecting Soviet-inspired socialist realism in favor of abstract postmodernism. The endeavor did not survive long past Tito's death in 1980, and many spomeniks were abandoned or destroyed after the breakup of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s, though others have been either maintained or repurposed.

Additional reading:

Arna Mackic, "Mortal Cities and Forgotten Monuments":

The monuments, along with their often natural surroundings, were designed to become public spaces where people could hike or simply lounge. Yearly student excursions to these monuments were organised, where they learned about the history and the origin of Yugoslavia. More important than history, however, students were taught that their comfortable life in Yugoslavia – in which everything was good, equal and developing – was only possible thanks to the battle that the victims of fascism had fought in that very area. This derived from the conviction that unity can only be created when people have a common future.

Christine Blau, "Haunting Relics of a Country That No Longer Exists":

These conceptual monuments, originally meant to usher in a utopian future, live on. Some people nostalgically consider these souvenirs of a better time, while others find them painful reminders of an unspeakable past. That’s why the monuments today live in various states of disrepair. Some of the memorials have caretakers and house small museums, while others lay in ruin.

Post title comes from this Twitter essay on the legacy of the spomeniks by @RespectableLaw.

Spomeniks previously.
posted by Cash4Lead (7 comments total) 34 users marked this as a favorite
these are amazing. these are truly tickling some fancy deep down inside of me. I really, really like this aesthetic.
posted by rebent at 9:13 AM on September 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

Interesting read on Tito and how he's remembered by former Yugoslavians.

"Tito's rise from Communist Party chairman to Yugoslav prime minister and president effectively amounted to an unchallenged reign of more than four decades. Today, 30 years after his death and nearly 20 years after the disintegration of the Yugoslavia he helped create, Tito still commands affection and respect, a unifying figure in a now deeply divided region. "
posted by entropos at 10:00 AM on September 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

They remind me of the 1982 EPCOT Center Future World buildings, which we're also losing steadily one by one.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:07 AM on September 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

Name: 'The Fork' or 'The Monument to Hanged Patriots'

How amazing, some are quite beautiful. Most are gone, it's tough to be art, even abstract it's affected by politics.
posted by sammyo at 10:12 AM on September 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

posted by nikoniko at 11:43 AM on September 18, 2017

This is an incredible archive of a fascinating phenomenon. Thank you for posting.
posted by latkes at 11:49 AM on September 18, 2017

Thank you. I'm obsessed with spomeniks and I have always, always wanted to tour them. I love the section on the designers and creators, and that they take care to link them to their respective pieces.
posted by mykescipark at 11:58 AM on September 18, 2017 [2 favorites]

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