Spomenik

Spomenik is Serbian for “monument”. The entire series of monuments, scattered all throughout the countries of former Yugoslavia, was erected in the 1960s and 1970s, commissioned by then-Yugolsav president Josip Broz Tito to commemorate sites where WWII battles took place (like Tjentište, Kozara and Kadinjača), or where concentration camps stood (like Jasenovac and Niš). They were designed by different sculptors and architects – an architect Bogdan Bogdanovic was an author of 20 of them.

The series comprises of 25 monuments, large-scale, mostly concrete, futuristic, otherwordly in their nature, especially when you come to think they are meant to symblize the atrocities of WWII. The highly shapes of particular monuments resemble giant models of microbes, huge crystals, deconstructed architecture, even alien plant life. Throughout the 80s, the monuments were visited by millions of Yugoslavians, especially younger people who were pursuing their patriotic education. Today, they stand isolated, abandoned, their meaning becomimg obscure with every passing generation, frequently crumbling into ruins at the tops of the hills and above the cities they are located in. Although some call them “pearls of the modernistic architecture”, they are mostly regarded as an incovenient heritage.

A Belgium photographer Jan Kempenaers took on a difficult task of documenting the almost-forgotten gigants. For 3 years he travelled the location in the present day Croa­tia, Ser­bia, Slove­nia and Bosnia, taking photos of the current state of the monuments. The serires of photos he took were later published in an album entitled “Spomenik. The End of History“.

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