We love you, our Fatherland: Yugoslav and Serbian Popular and Official Anthems

The past two centuries of Serbian and Yugoslav national movements might have produced a lot of pain and suffering, but they also did create some cool music. Here are my favourite official and unofficial anthems of Serbia and Yugoslavia, which can still bring a tear to my eye. 9. Zemljo moja (To my country) – Ambasadori, 1975 Apparently one of Tito‘s favourite songs, “Zemljo moja” … Continue reading We love you, our Fatherland: Yugoslav and Serbian Popular and Official Anthems

All The Belgrade Olympics That Didn’t Happen

Ever since their modern re-incarnation, the Olympics are an opportunity for countries to show off their wealth, might and cultural sophistication, all under a pleasant guise of global unity, fair play and athletic achievement. They are certainly the most enduring and spectacular pinnacle of Belle Époque intellectual trends from increased importance of sports in individual and social development (e.g. the Sokol movement), globalism, international competition, … Continue reading All The Belgrade Olympics That Didn’t Happen

Belgrade’s Lost Monuments

As a city which went through significant turmoils in its modern, post-Ottoman history – from brutal occupations in WWI and WWII to major political changes in 1903, after WWII and in 2000 – Belgrade has had its fair share of monument destructions, however mostly at the hands of its occupiers. Unsurprisingly, removal of monuments to the recent past happened most immediately after the Partizans took … Continue reading Belgrade’s Lost Monuments

Yugohotel: Omorika, Tara

Built in 1978. based on the design of Miroslav Krstonošić, a Ljubljana-educated architect from Novi Sad, Omorika is named after an autochthonous spruce which grows on the slopes of Tara. Its tent-shaped design was awarded Borba prize for architecture, and its interior still looks very much in vein of other Yugohotels. Thanks to the fact that it still owned by the Serbian Military (although accessible … Continue reading Yugohotel: Omorika, Tara

An African-American Star in 1920s Yugoslavia

In April 1929, Josephine Baker was the first African-American star to visit Belgrade, while she was on her tour around Central Europe on the Orient Express. The visit came during her peak popularity in Paris, just before she made her hit „J’ai deux Amours”, and while she was still shunned in her native US, despite entrancing everyone with her dance and skimpy exotic outfits. She … Continue reading An African-American Star in 1920s Yugoslavia

VIS Idoli and Subversion in the 1980s SFRY

Opinion on Yugoslav pop music among Serbia’s intellectual elite oscillates between breathless adoration (in 1990s, when it was a sign of being “educated” against the onslaught of the ovelry maligned folk and turbofolk) to disgust (currently liking EKV, let alone Bijelo Dugme,  is considered a sure sign of pseudointellectualism and/or smarm) and back to ironic appreciation (Zdravko Čolić and Bajaga). As Yugopop was the soundtrack … Continue reading VIS Idoli and Subversion in the 1980s SFRY

Celebrating Workers in Belgrade’s Public Art

As Serbia and Yugoslavia moved towards a more industrial economy in 1930s and 40s the industrial workers, who had a rough time during the capitalist monarchy in Yugoslavia, started being celebrated in its arts. Although celebration of the life workers was most famously depicted by artists with socialist sensibilities such as Đorđe Andrejević Kun, whose album of prints Bloody Gold, depicted rapacious capitalism, idealised workers … Continue reading Celebrating Workers in Belgrade’s Public Art

Hidden Belgrade (45) Sava Centar: Yugoslavia’s Global Stage

When I asked Maja Necić from AUTORI, one of the leading contemporary architecture and design studios in Serbia, for any buildings that inspire her work, she took a pause and then immediately said: Sava Centar. Designed by Stojan Maksimović, one of Yugoslavia’s most promising architects who was in his 40s at the time, and built between 1976 and 1979, it was mean to be the … Continue reading Hidden Belgrade (45) Sava Centar: Yugoslavia’s Global Stage

How Ivan Meštrović brought the Kosovo Myth to life

In 1911, Ivan Meštrović, a Croatian sculptor raised in Dalmatian backwater and educated in Vienna, who was hailed as one of the greatest of his generation and a successor to Rodin,  caused the first of many political stirs in his life. Instead of exhibiting his monumental, secession-inspired works to show the glory and grandeur of the imperial Austro-Hungary during the 1911 international art exhibition in … Continue reading How Ivan Meštrović brought the Kosovo Myth to life

Hidden Belgrade (43): Last days of Yugoslav socialist consumerism

While many emphasise worker-ownership or its non-aligned anti-imperialist foreign policy as distinctive features of Yugoslav socialism, for me one of the most striking ways it differed from the countries behind the “Iron Curtain” is its deep openness to Western consumerist culture. Indeed, if you ask average former Yugoslavs what the main difference was between them and their supposed ideological comrades in the Warsaw pact, they … Continue reading Hidden Belgrade (43): Last days of Yugoslav socialist consumerism

Hidden Belgrade (42): Art for The People!

Public art in Belgrade is back in fashion with many ambitious projects completed and planned. They range from the sculptural/architectural collaboration between Turner prize-winning Richard Deacon and widely acclaimed local sculptor Mrđan Bajić to the future gigantic monument to  the founder of the most successful of Serbian medieval states, Stefan Nemanja, made by the acclaimed Russian sculptor Alexander Rukavishnikov. There have also recently been two … Continue reading Hidden Belgrade (42): Art for The People!

20 Yugosphere songs from 2010s that you have to hear before 2020

As the last summer of 2010s is slowly coming to an end, I thought that it was a high time for a listicle celebrating songs from countries of ex-Yugoslavia that marked the past decade for me. I don’t want to claim that they are the best songs made in the past decade in the region, nor a fair representation of what is going on on … Continue reading 20 Yugosphere songs from 2010s that you have to hear before 2020

The Many Charms of Yugohotels

Hotels and resorts of Socialist Yugoslavia got a lot of press in the past few years (two examples here), especially as every summer more and more foreign tourists are heading to its coasts and cities over the summer. This recent fascination with ‘Yugohotels’ is more than just due to the trendiness of the Eastern Adriatic coast in the past few years, or the hipsterish love … Continue reading The Many Charms of Yugohotels

Abramović, Žižek and Milanović: Yugoslavia’s First and Last Global Public Intellectuals

For a country that’s been dead for almost thirty years and whose contributions to the world, according to the Western prestige-press range from German Nazism to  Islamophobia in Australia it may be surprising that in the past few years, a number of Yugoslav intellectuals seem to have charmed their Western peers, and to be giving their fair share of insights into the current malaise that … Continue reading Abramović, Žižek and Milanović: Yugoslavia’s First and Last Global Public Intellectuals

Beyond Brutalism: Belgrade’s Magical Pre-WWII Architecture

Although best known for socialist modernism and brutalism, Belgrade’s architecture is (in)famously eclectic due to the various political twists and turns that shaped the city’s identity (as I’ve written here). Although through much of the 19th century, Belgrade’s foreign and foreign-educated architects were trying to find their feet by copying architecture of Serbia’s powerful neighbours, in early 20th century and arrival of art-nouveau, which embraced … Continue reading Beyond Brutalism: Belgrade’s Magical Pre-WWII Architecture

Pokretači #48 Muharem Bazdulj

Muharem Bazdulj je pisac, novinar i prevodilac. Jedan je od najnagrađivanijijh pisaca sa prostora bivše Jugoslavije. 
Pričali smo o njegovim spisateljskim početcima, vrednosti štampanih medija, kao i o tome kako je biti “javni intelektualac” u BiH, Srbiji i šire, što je i jedna od tema njegovog novog romana: Kvadratni koren iz života. Continue reading Pokretači #48 Muharem Bazdulj

Brief Histories of Favourite Balkan Foods

While foreign rule and power struggles often brought havoc to the Balkan peoples, it also left behind a diverse cuisine in which various influences merge and make the best use of the region’s fertile lands. While some regional specialities do not cross borders, the limits between the national cuisines in the Balkans tend to be blurry, with many nations enjoying same foods, albeit claiming them … Continue reading Brief Histories of Favourite Balkan Foods

SpomenikDatabase: How an American Helped Preserve Memories of Yugoslav WWII Memorials

About a decade ago, Yugoslav WWII monuments were almost forgotten at home but started capturing people’s imagination around the world when Jan Kempenaers, a Belgian photographer, created his ‘Spomeniks’ (‘Memorials’) series, which included images of striking monuments at Kosmaj in Serbia, Podgaric in Croatia and Tjentiste in Bosnia and Herzegovina. His eerie photos of oddly-shaped memorials in dramatic settings attracted the attention of design and … Continue reading SpomenikDatabase: How an American Helped Preserve Memories of Yugoslav WWII Memorials