Jan Kempenaers

Spomenik, 2007

As part of his project titled Spomenik: The End of History, which makes explicit reference to Francis Fukuyama’s famous book published in 1992, the photographer Jan Kempenaers travelled the length and breadth of the former Yugoslavia to capture what remains of the many monuments (spomenik) erected by the Tito government in the 1960s and 1970s, as a tribute to the Communist resistance to the Nazi occupation. After the turbulence of the ethnic wars linked with the collapse of the former Yugoslavia, these brutalist monuments, which show an extreme formal diversity, were largely destroyed, while others were simply abandoned. Located in strategic sites, battlefields, concentration camps, and hospitals for partisans, these monumental sculptures, with their powerfully expressive geometric forms, were constructed in long-lasting materials, like architectural structures, using reinforced concrete, steel and granite. Today little understood by later generations, these strange memorials, devoid of the faded finery of their social and political ideology, as well as their commemorative function, question the way in which “an object” may gain the status of pure and autonomous sculpture, after the “end of history”.

Nadine Labedade

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