Unfinished Modernisations

Unfinished Modernisations

UGM | Maribor Art Gallery

Cultural Centre Kolasin, Montenegro, 1976; architect Marko Music (© Wolfgang Thaler).

March 18, 2012

Unfinished Modernisations: Between Utopia and Pragmatism
Architecture and urban planning in the former Yugoslavia and the successor states

10 February–22 April 2012

UGM Maribor Art Gallery
Strossmayerjeva 6, Maribor, Slovenia


Curators: Maroje Mrduljaš (HR), Vladimir Kulić (RS/USA); with: Matevž Čelik (SI), Antun Sevšek (HR), Simona Vidmar (SI)

The presentation of architectural and large-scale urban planning projects which mark the period of (socialist) Yugoslavia is a long-expected event that focuses on the milestones and visions of the (unfinished) modernisations of cities during socialism as well as answers the questions about their role and legacy in the successor states. The exhibition focuses on the physical space, e.g. on the production of city respectively as one of the fundamental means of socialist modernisation, and on the role that architecture had played in this production. It presents numerous architectural projects, ranging from tourist experiments on the Adriatic coastline, concepts for new cities and presentation pavilions at international exhibitions, to notorious public edifices and historical memorials in all the former Yugoslav republics starting with the communist takeover in 1945 to the collapse of the Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia in 1991.

During the early postwar years, the Soviet doctrine of Socialist Realism demanded explicit representations through architecture, but it was cut short by the break between Tito and Stalin in 1948, after which modernism quickly emerged as a predominant mode of architecture practice in ex-Yugoslavia. Although intended as non-representational, modernism acquired certain implicit meanings: on the one hand, it was the de facto style of the massive wave of socialist modernisation, on the other it was seen as a signifier of Yugoslavia’s distinction from the Soviet bloc.

During socialist Yugoslavia, modernisation was presented unilaterally like an everyday collective achievement that should reveal the progress of workers’ self-management and make people feel proud of it. The life of Yugoslavs was thus marked by megalomaniacal, almost utopian projects in the fields of industry, energetics, traffic logistics, town planning. On the other hand, today this socialist utopianism is often a synonym for the “original sin” of unsuitable economic structures, ecological problems and social conflicts.

The project is a result of a two-year collaboration of several institutions − UGM/Maribor Art Gallery (Slovenia), UHA/Croatian Architects’ Association (Croatia), MAO/Museum of Architecture and Design (Slovenia), DAB/Association of Belgrade Architects (Serbia), KOR/Coalition for Sustainable Development (Macedonia) and ORIS/House of Architecture (Croatia) − as well as the research work of over 50 young architects, architecture historians, critics and activists from ex-Yugoslavia. The exhibition’s curators are: Maroje Mrduljaš (HR), editor in chief of the Croatian Magazine for Architecture and Culture Oris; Vladimir Kulić (SR/USA), professor of architecture history and theory at the Florida Atlantic University; Matevž Čelik (SI), director of the Museum of Architecture and Design Ljubljana; Antun Sevšek, architect; and Simona Vidmar, senior curator at the Maribor Art Gallery.

Unfinished Modernisations is part of the European Capital of Culture Maribor 2012 programme and it is funded with support from the European Commission.

UGM Maribor Art Gallery presents Unfinished Modernisations
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March 18, 2012

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