Since July 2018, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) has hosted an exhibition exploring the architecture of the former Yugoslavia. “Concrete Utopia: Architecture in Yugoslavia, 1948-1980” became the first major US exhibition to study the subject, through over 400 drawings, models, photographs, and films.
With the exhibition soon coming to an end, Martino Stierli (Chief Curator of Architecture and Design at MoMA) and Vladimir Kulic (Guest Curator and Architecture Historian) have presented a 7-minute-long video guiding viewers through the highlights of the exhibition.
Available above, the video touches on a variety of structures, from the small, modular K67 Kiosk to the imposing Avala TV Tower in Belgrade. Tracing the genesis of the architectural movement; a post-war, utopian vision of a new society to which architecture played a central role.
The architecture that emerged during this period—from International Style skyscrapers to Brutalist “social condensers”—is a manifestation of the radical pluralism, hybridity, and idealism that characterized the Yugoslav state itself. Exploring themes of large-scale urbanization, technological experimentation and its application in everyday life, consumerism, monuments and memorialization, and the global reach of Yugoslav architecture, Toward a Concrete Utopia features work by important architects, including Bogdan Bogdanović, Juraj Neidhardt, Svetlana Kana Radević, Edvard Ravnikar, Vjenceslav Richter, and Milica Šterić.
French photographer Jonk drove over 5,000 kilometers through southeast Europe. His subject matter? Yugoslavian monuments, or “spomenik” in Serbian. Built in the 1960s and 70s under former president Josep Broz Tito, these monuments commemorate the communist resistance during the German occupation.
Commissioned by former Yugoslavian president, Josip Broz Tito in the 1960s and 70s to commemorate sites where WWII battles took place, these now forgotten structures stand empty and without the significance it once had decades ago.
For many years, Yugoslavia’s futuristic “Spomenik” monuments were hidden from the majority of the world, shielded from the public eye by their remote locations within the mountains and forests of Eastern Europe. That is, until the late 2000s, when Belgian photographer Jan Kempenaers began capturing the abstract sculptures and pavilions and posting his photographs to the internet.