Disappearing Architecture


Jan Kempenaers

Jan Kempenaers, Spomenik 1


Jan Kempenaers, Spomenik 2


Jan Kempenaers, Spomenik 3


Jan Kempenaers, Spomenik 4


Jan Kempenaers, Spomenik 5


Jan Kempenaers, Spomenik 6


Jan Kempenaers, Spomenik 7


Jan Kempenaers, Spomenik 8


»In the rugged, mountainous regions of the former Yugoslavia, Spomeniks are everywhere. You’ll see them on strategic outcrops, lofty passes and sweeping plateaus: gigantic sculptures, firmly anchored to the rocks. They are objects of stunning beauty. Their abstract geometric shapes recall macro views of viruses, flower-petal goblets, crystals. They are built of indestructible materials like reinforced concrete, steel and granite. Some are solid, others hollow. The largest Spomeniks even afford access to the public, teetering on the boundary where sculpture becomes architecture. 

Hardly anyone outside of the former Yugoslavia is aware of their existence, and within the present ex-Yugoslavia, no one really wants to be reminded that they are there. Twenty years ago there were thousands of them, of every conceivable size, shape and description, but in the early 1990s the majority of them were destroyed, dismantled or in the best case, abandoned to the natural elements. Only those large and heavy enough to thwart vandals are still standing today, derelict and forsaken. Yet these objects were built just a single generation ago, in the 1960s and 70s, as memorials to the Second World War. Those who commissioned them have since passed away, but their architects and sculptors are still living. In the 1980s the monuments still attracted millions of visitors, but a decade later their appeal vanished. They have become submerged in a new age, rendered unintelligible to the current generation. Their symbolism has been lost in translation as the visual language has changed, their signals muffled by a shifted worldview. The monuments have been the objects of blind fury, and now of indifference. What remains is pure sculpture in a desolate landscape. ... «

From »Spomenik - The Monuments of Former Yugoslavia«
by Willem Jan Neutelings

The Book SPOMENIK was published by Roma Publications in 2010 →

© Jan Kempenaers
www.jankempenaers.info →