Tuesday, April 26, 2011
"Spomenik: The End of History"
From 2006 to 2009, Belgian photographer Jan Kempenaers toured around the ex-Yugoslavia region (now Croatia, Serbia, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, etc.) to document structures that were commissioned by former Yugoslavian president Josip Broz Tito in the 1960s and 70s. They were built to commemorate sites where WWII battles took place (like Tjentište, Kozara and Kadinjača), or where concentration camps stood (like Jasenovac and Niš) and were designed by different sculptors and architects. After the Republic dissolved in the early 1990s, most were completely abandoned, along with their symbolic meanings. With the help of a 1975 map of these memorials, Kempenaers located and photographed these buildings/ sculptures and published the results in a book called “Spomenik” The End of History.” As the meanings fade for these haunting objects, they take on a different dimension. Instead of symbolizing something, they end up meaning only themselves, referencing only their own puzzling scope and surreal shape.
I particularly like how many of these monuments are built in pairs, one shape mirroring the other. And many of these pairs end up looking like stylized wings. There must be some sort of collective unconscious leap for so many different architects and sculptors to equate this shape and idea with memorials for the dead.