Belgian photographer Jan Kempenaers will be exhibiting his renowned ‘Spomenik’ series as part of the Monumentalism exhibition. Extensively exhibited across Europe and the US, the series comprises of 26 images depicting the futuristic memorials built in the former Yugoslavia commemorating WWII battles. The series will be shown as a large projection with accompanying interpretive text.
Drawing on local knowledge and a map from the ‘70’s depicting the whereabouts of the monuments, Kempenaers traversed the Balkans between 2006 and 2009 locating and photographing these abstract structures. Devoid of people, these powerful images were an Internet hit after his book ‘Spomenik’ (a Croatian word meaning monument) was released in 2010 with a flood of blogs dedicated to these futuristic sculptural forms.
Pictured is one of Kempenaers’ works, his photograph of Jasenovac – a memorial built to the victims of a concentration camp located in Slavonia in northeast Croatia. Designed by renowned architect and academic Bogdan Bogdanovic, Jasenovac commemorates the reportedly 100,000 mostly Serbs, Jews and Gypsies who were exterminated, mostly by hand, at the WWII concentration camp. Known for having been one of the most barbaric death camps for the extreme cruelty perpetrated, Jasenovac came to be known as the Auschwitz of The Balkans. Bogdanovic’s architectural design ‘Stone Flower’ was created to symbolize renewal and forgiveness. The monument was vandalized during the Balkans War but unlike many of the other damaged structures has since been restored.
Jan Kempenaers lives and works in Antwerp, Belgium and is currently affiliated to the School of Arts Ghent. He studied film and photography at the School of Arts in Ghent and completed his PhD in 2012. Recent solo exhibitions include Triennale de Photographie et Architecture #5, Brussels (2015), Jan Kempenaers, Breese Little, London (2013), Spomenik, Fowler Museum, L.A. (2013), I’m not tailgating, I’m drafting, Still Gallery, Belgium (2013), Jan Kempenaers: Spomenik, Liquid Courage Gallery, Nassau (2013), Kempenaers was a participating artist in Back to the Future, Breese Little, London (2012) and The Architecture Biennale, Venice, (2010).
Kempenares has released a number of publications featuring his photographic work, a selection are available through Melbourne bookstore Perimeter Books.