The decaying monuments from Tito’s Yugoslavia form the backdrop for ‘Monumentalism’ – an exhibition curated by Anthony Bautovich at Kudos Gallery in November.
Memorials from the past, these abstract structures were commissioned by President Josip Broz Tito to convey a sense of confidence and strength in the new Socialist Republic. Designed and built in the ‘60s and ‘70s by leading architects and sculptors including Vojin Bakic and Bogan Bogdanovic, these stunning gestures to modernism are located at sites of battles and concentration camps commemorating the victims of fascism in WW11.
Devoid of signs of ideologies, war heroes or religions, these abstract forms were symbols of a modern and unified future. Established as recreational areas to visit and cultivate a sense of national and cultural togetherness, these remote and isolated memorials now lay idle.
As the Balkans War took hold in the early ‘90s and Yugoslavia fell apart, the monuments became touchstones for the inherent hatreds from the past. Many of the monuments have been destroyed and even today the remaining memorials are being dismantled for their raw materials. The authorities turn a blind eye. From triumph to tragedy, these abandoned and decaying forms are a reflection of a broken and disbanded state. The original intention for the creation of the monuments has resulted in their demise. Politics created the monuments and politics has destroyed them.
Can the monuments continue to exist as sculptures? Can monuments derive a new meaning in a altered context? Do monuments have a purpose today?
The son of migrants from the former Yugoslavia, the curator’s interest in art from Eastern Europe was the catalyst for ‘Monumentalism’. The exhibition will bring together International and Australian artists to respond to the emotional and social impact of the failings of the single party state.