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

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

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

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

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

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

Dejan Milićević: King of Yugoslav 90s Camp and Colour

Ever since MTV started airing non-stop music videos in 1980s, Yugoslav pop stars were keen to embrace the style and creativity of the medium. From the get go there were many creative attempts with the format from very arty and conceptual videos of VIS Idoli to sexy  high production videos to Lepa Brena’s songs. Slovenian controversial art-band Laibach’s video for Life is Life even managed … Continue reading Dejan Milićević: King of Yugoslav 90s Camp and Colour

Serbia and Yugoslavia at the World Fairs (1): 1885-1939

Ever since the world was sufficiently globalised to allow for a common cultural language of admiration for technology and industry in mid-19th century, there have been expositions which allowed every country to show their might, progress and peculiarity on the world stage. It all started with the Great Exhibition in the Crystal Palace of 1851, inside the Hyde Park, which dazzled the inhabitants of the … Continue reading Serbia and Yugoslavia at the World Fairs (1): 1885-1939

Belgrade to Novi Sad on Soko express

Train travel used to be the stuff of nightmares in Serbia. While I was in highschool I remember packing up lots of food for a 90km train ride to Novi Sad, while any attempts to venture further – to Zagreb and Budapest (both about 400km away from Belgrade) – were day-long out trips in crappy trains that stopped in crappy stations. I n a lot … Continue reading Belgrade to Novi Sad on Soko express

High speed rail, tragic romances, socialist extravaganza and breathtaking views: Where to go in 2022?

In the past two years, Serbia was enjoying being rediscovered by its citizens thanks to COVID travel restrictions. As everybody “did” various spas, visits to the Uvac canyon, hikes on Stara mountain and dipped Bela Crkva lakes, one could wonder if there is anything else that remains to be visited? Thankfully, yes – and this year I decided to recommend places that were hiding in … Continue reading High speed rail, tragic romances, socialist extravaganza and breathtaking views: Where to go in 2022?

Hidden Belgrade (65): Three forgotten townhouses

Belgrade’s democratic and indomitable spirit is probably to credit (or blame, depending on who you ask, and what you think) for frequent turnovers of its elites. For example, in just one neighbourhood, playful Ottoman townhouses of Zerek – currently referred to as Dorćol – in which the Muslim merchants languored on divans – gave way to mostly sober neoclassical houses of late 19th and early … Continue reading Hidden Belgrade (65): Three forgotten townhouses

Expo 2020 Dubai: Hits and Misses

For a tourist, who is not a jet setting merchant or businessman, an Expo is a mix of Disneyland and the Olympics – both of which I love. Despite my enthusiasm for both, xpoO in Dubai was my first and, overall, it was a great experience – especially given the Emirati penchant for pomp. Although Dubai’s contribution to the world of invention and collective imagination … Continue reading Expo 2020 Dubai: Hits and Misses

Lust for lustracija

Pre par meseci sam bio deo grupe sa pametnijim, finijim i pristojnim ljudima od mene, i jedan od naših zadataka je bio da zamilsimo idelanu budućnost Srbije, u kojoj je ona oslobođena bilo kakvih stega, što unutrašnjih, što spoljašnjih. U tom, nažalost ne preterano izglednom, scenariju vrlo nalik na onaj opevan u Lenonovom Imagine, je bilo sve moguće: svetske sile su se dogovorile da puste … Continue reading Lust for lustracija

Belgrade Post-Modern: Ruins at the End of History

“The only way for us to become great, or even inimitable if possible, is to imitate the ancients.” Johann Joachim Winckelmann  “As is the case with the weather: rain and storms from the West reached us and so did Postmodernism. At the very beginning of Postmodernism, a great conference was held in Zagreb on that topic, which identified vectors and positive values ​​of the movement … Continue reading Belgrade Post-Modern: Ruins at the End of History

Sticky post

Karafindl: The Nutshell Times Good Kafana Guide

Given that the culinary scene in Serbia not only expanded, but changed sufficiently to attract the interest of Michelin guides, a few friends and I lamented the receding prominence of good Serbian kafanas on the culinary landscape. Yes, this is probably overly nostalgic and curmudgeonly, however once one hits a certain age, has had the chance to taste enough varied dishes and has been overcharged … Continue reading Karafindl: The Nutshell Times Good Kafana Guide