Danica Crnogorčević: the trad villainess of the Balkan Arts scene

How a trad Christian pop folk singer became the most controversial person in ex-Yugoslavia When you listen to Danica Crnogorčević’s music, you will be instantly amazed by her voice. Wonderfully colourful and powerful, she comes across as a Montenegrin Enya, and in a lot of ways the two share a lot in common. Like Enya, she cuts an almost impossibly wholesome figure: a church-going (her … Continue reading Danica Crnogorčević: the trad villainess of the Balkan Arts scene

Nietzsche, villas and suspicious art benefactors: top twelve places I visited in 2022

Last year I finally got back into my travelling mode. Here are the twelve places that I visited that really stand out in my memory, and to which I come back often in these grey winter days in Belgrade. Thankfully this year I also discovered how easy it is to edit and post videos on TikTok so I can revisit them often :p Sils Maria … Continue reading Nietzsche, villas and suspicious art benefactors: top twelve places I visited in 2022

The fall of Yugoslav civilisation: Doomers at the gates

In the library of my grandmother’s salon in Avalska, between the many Marxist and Yugoslav communist tomes, stood a hard bound copy of „Civilisation“ by Kenneth Clark, published by Mladost from Zagreb in 1972. The fact that this book, a seductive (and often derided) statmeet of Western cultural supremacy,  was translated into Serbo-Croatian and published in a socialist only three years after it appeared in … Continue reading The fall of Yugoslav civilisation: Doomers at the gates

More than Santa Claus: Why St Nicholas is a huge deal in Serbia?

St Nicholas is the most popular saint in Serbia, at least in terms of the number of families celebrating his feast day (19 Dec/6 Dec Julian calendar) as a slava (family patron saint’s day). He is also revered as a gift bringer and it was on St Nicholas’ that kids were given presents before WWII in Serbia. Since WWII, that role is taken over by … Continue reading More than Santa Claus: Why St Nicholas is a huge deal in Serbia?

Pedo-Satanist elites and all that: How to make it as an Eastern European creative?

It rarely happens that I am transfixed by art, however almost two decades ago, I could not stop staring at very haunting painting of Santa Clause on a morgue table, and portraits of children, blankly looking at me while sitting uncomfortably, scantily clad, in a slaughterhouse-like setting. I was in one of the public art galleries in Central Belgrade, which, as galleries around the world … Continue reading Pedo-Satanist elites and all that: How to make it as an Eastern European creative?

Best autumn/winter hikes from Belgrade

While Belgrade is very cosy in Autumn and Winter (and can actually have amazing weather), the crowds and pollution can be a tad overwhelming, and make you wish to leave at least for a day. Below are a few suggestions for day-escapes if you enjoy hiking in the autumn and winter. In addition to these, do check out my older article on best day trips … Continue reading Best autumn/winter hikes from Belgrade

Lost Belgrade: Structures that should RETVRN to Belgrade’s street

Serbia’s and Yugoslavia’s embrace of modernist architecture after WWII has been so thorough that any thought of reviving architectural styles before 1920s is seen as automatically kitschy and a no-no amongst our architects. While some structures were restored (the building housing the National museum, Central Belgrade palace complex) after extensive aerial bombings during WWII many were replaced with new modernist buildings, but there was also … Continue reading Lost Belgrade: Structures that should RETVRN to Belgrade’s street

Non-Western Balkans: an identity struggle

Some time ago, overcome by a listicle-making urge, I considered putting together a playlist of highly orientalist Yugoslav songs with entries such as Bebi Dol’s Mustafa and Brekvica’s “Loša”. While trawling though YouTube I realised the absurdity at the heart of the endeavour: much of our pop music is “oriental” in the sense that it was influenced by Turkish (or wider Silk road) rhythms and … Continue reading Non-Western Balkans: an identity struggle

Forn addiction: why we need more master bakers

Waking around Palma in early morning, I was surprised by the large number of bakeries or “forns”, around town. Unusually pretty and ornate, dotted around the town’s winding alleys, they are almost the only sign of life for early birds like me. Walking between them and getting various ensaïmadas, I was thinking how amazing local bakeries are, especially in these carb-phobic and food chain-obsessed times. … Continue reading Forn addiction: why we need more master bakers

Vanishing Majik of turn-of-millennium Belgrade hotspots

There is no better sign of (approaching) middle age than reminiscing about the restaurants, bars and clubs which are no longer around, but which left a mark on one’s memories, taste and, in many ways, life. My path towards becoming a kafana connoisseur started in Vidin kapija, across the road from my primary school. I was taken there in 1996 by my mom and grandma … Continue reading Vanishing Majik of turn-of-millennium Belgrade hotspots

Tragedija ličnog u totalnom sistemu

Najgadnija pojava u medijima, odnosno širem propagandnom kompleksu, koji sve više uključuje i akademske institucije ali i „civile“ po društvenim medijima, je sada normalizovana praksa uklapanja izolovanih, ali duboko tragičnih i strašnih slučajeva u modle koje pogoduju interesima koje služe. Kada god se desi neka tragedija, poput masakra na Cetinju ili davljenja Matrija Periša, često imamo samo par sati da je iskusimo kao manifestaciju okrutne … Continue reading Tragedija ličnog u totalnom sistemu

Hidden Belgrade (67): Swimming palaces of Belgrade

Maybe it is the shimmer of the water, maybe it is the people around them, or perhaps it is chlorine or sunstroke, but swimming pools, and especially public pools, have a magical, surreal touch to them. It is no wonder they inspired a lot of great art from Hockney’s Bigger splash, to Cheever’s excellent (yet dark) tale of a man who decided to swim his … Continue reading Hidden Belgrade (67): Swimming palaces of Belgrade

Beyond ajvar, burek and ćevapi: building your kafana cred with must-try offal and regional dishes

While Serbia and the Balkans come nowhere near Italy in purism about food and food related customs (aka culinary fascism), there are certain things that are not done, and certain other signs that signal to you that you are in the presence of a true gastronomic veteran. For example, one of the main tells that you are a non-local in Serbia is ordering ajvar in … Continue reading Beyond ajvar, burek and ćevapi: building your kafana cred with must-try offal and regional dishes

Terra, Kikinda: How a local artist used home turf to create a world’s best terracotta art collection

As a twenty-something third year student at Belgrade’s art Academy in 1960s, Slobodan Kojić dreamt big. A Kikinda native, he envisaged creating an art colony which would make use of his native city’s clay pits – which powered the city’s brick and roof tile industry – so artists could create majestic, grandiose works of terracotta. The use or clay in the arts in what is … Continue reading Terra, Kikinda: How a local artist used home turf to create a world’s best terracotta art collection

Montenegrin roadtrip: Tito’s villas, best lamb roasts in Grahovo, castles and monasteries

Even with the current petrol prices, the best way to enjoy Monetnegro is by car. There is stunning scenery almost literally wherever you look, you can see many unexplored places, you don’t have to rely on public transport (although scenic rail is still notoriously unreliable) and/or get stuck in the usual tourist haunts all of which, after a few days, become a bit stale. Furthermore, … Continue reading Montenegrin roadtrip: Tito’s villas, best lamb roasts in Grahovo, castles and monasteries

Путовање до базена: Правда за круг Двојке

Јутрос сам одлучио да се мало охладим и запалим на 25. мај, како бих се охладио од спарине које се спсустила. Како сам успео да промашим фамозну Двојку и 79ку, кренуо сам пешке из лиминалног дела Старог града у коме обитавам и у коме сам обитавао, стицајем околности, од детињства, са ”Старе Палиуле”, ”Копитареве градине”, ”испод Скупштине”, ”око Палмотићеве” (без медицинских импликација) – све у … Continue reading Путовање до базена: Правда за круг Двојке

The Consolation of Hypertrophy: Samuel Fussell’s “Muscle: Confessions of the unlikely bodybuilder” by Samuel Wilson Fussell

Reading Camille Paglia’s essays in  “Sex, Art and American Culture”, I came across a book that very much appealed to me, especially given that I only became passionate about going to the gym on the cusp of my 30s. She gave it the highest praise, in her own characteristic way: “Muscle, sympathetically read as an archetypal hero saga of embattled masculinity, exposes the parochialism, preachiness, … Continue reading The Consolation of Hypertrophy: Samuel Fussell’s “Muscle: Confessions of the unlikely bodybuilder” by Samuel Wilson Fussell

Beyond splavs and Ada: how to spend your Belgrade summer

After two lousy years of the pandemic, now there is a potential world war threatening to sour our „špricers“. However if the years of turbulence taught us anything, it is that it is important to make the most out of a lousy situation, something that Belgrade always excelled at. While most of the guides will send you to swim in Ada, eat in Skadarlija or … Continue reading Beyond splavs and Ada: how to spend your Belgrade summer

Hope and Despair in Valencia

Walking through the brash and brilliant City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia, the flashiest in Calatrava’s global herd of white elephants, I could not but feel giddy with its ambition. The June sun, reflected on the ceramic coating of its improbably shaped buildings dispelled all the doom and gloom of 2022 Europe, and brought me back to the late 90s when I religiously watched … Continue reading Hope and Despair in Valencia

Serbia, sanctioned

Since Serbia is remembering 30th anniversary since very harsh sancions were imposed on the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, and as we are being pressured to impose sanctions in Russia, I am reminded of my earliest memories, which took place by the Belgrade train station. It was hot summers’ day in 1992, and I was four, throwing a tantrum when I was supposed to be saying … Continue reading Serbia, sanctioned