Hidden Belgrade (64): The Cursed Ghost Ship

Having been in a bit of a wedding frenzy over the past few days, I thought about the history of what I thought was one of the most beautiful and doomed wedding presents in Serbia: the “Dragor” river yacht, which I once read was a belated gift of the Romanian royal family to their daughter Marija on the occasion of her marriage to King Aleksandar … Continue reading Hidden Belgrade (64): The Cursed Ghost Ship

They don’t (re)make them like they used to: Yugoslav covers of foreign hits through the ages

Although the now globally ubiquitous charges of “cultural appropriation”, have been a staple of inter-ethnic relations in the Balkans since times immemorial (especially when nations insist on their protochronism), they have never stopped the willingness of local musicians to draw from foreign music to create local hits which became treated as local folk songs. This phenomenon was best described in a 2003 Bulgarian documentary, “Whose … Continue reading They don’t (re)make them like they used to: Yugoslav covers of foreign hits through the ages

Build Better: How a Belgrade Firm Built the World

Energoprojekt, the most famous firm based in Belgrade, is celebrating 70 years this year, and thanks to the great people of BINA (Belgrade International Architecture Week) I got acquainted a bit further with both its amazing HQ in New Belgrade as well as its accomplishments around the world. The frim, founded in 1951, initially focused on major energy projects in Yugoslavia, building its coal and … Continue reading Build Better: How a Belgrade Firm Built the World

Occupation in 2-6 Pictures: Beginning

On this day 80 years ago, 6 April 1941, my great-grandparents’s flat in Vuka Karadžića street in Belgrade was torn in two by the Nazi bombs. On the same day, their relative, who was a child at the time was almost killed in the debris the Stukas made of an air-raid shelter by the Ascension church. A few days later, as the Kingdom of Yugoslavia … Continue reading Occupation in 2-6 Pictures: Beginning

Hidden Belgrade (59): Yugoslavia’s Crib

Due to many destructions brought upon Serbia, there are a few houses that have been standing long enough and have been important enough to tell the story of the country’s history (and various incarnations). Thankfully however, one of them is located bang in the heart of Belgrade, at Terazije. One of the first works by one of Serbia’s first starchitects, Jovan Ilkić, this Neo-baroque house … Continue reading Hidden Belgrade (59): Yugoslavia’s Crib

Treats and Tricks: A Brief History of Serbia’s Favourite Sweets

Sweets are not the first thing you would associate with Serbia and, traditionally, they did not have a prominent place in the country’s cuisine.  In Serbia, the need for sugary treats was traditionally sated by plentiful fruit and preserves. Indeed, in one part of Njegoš’s epic Mountain Wreath (Gorski Vijenac), in describing his trip to Venice, duke Draško complains that the Venetians only subsisted on … Continue reading Treats and Tricks: A Brief History of Serbia’s Favourite Sweets

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