Yugoslavia with Strings Attached: Boris Kralj’s My Belgrade (2011) and Dubravka Ugrešić and Davor Konjikušić’s There’s Nothing Here (2020)

This article examines the contemporary photographic representations of Yugoslav modernist architecture and its ruins that serve as a counterpoint to the 2019 MoMA exhibition, Toward a Concrete Utopia: Architecture in Yugoslavia, 1948–1980, a project that brought socialist architectural modernism to international visibility. In particular, I focus on Boris Kralj’s photo-diary My Belgrade (2011) and Dubravka Ugrešić and Davor Konjikušić’s photo-essay There’s Nothing Here! (2020) to explore the ruins of Yugoslav socialist modernity not only as an object of aesthetic fascination, but also as an emotionally and politically charged site of collective nostalgia and politicized mourning in the postsocialist now. While Kralj documents the vanishing remains of socialism in millennial Belgrade to recollect a diasporic, increasingly non-normative and “queer” Yugoslav identity, Ugrešić and Konjikušić foreground the ruins of Yugoslav anti-fascist monuments as a traumatic void—a discursive silence about the effects of racialized, ethno-nationalist violence in EU’s new borderlands. I argue that both projects stage architectural photography as a situated and contextual practice by inscribing affective attachments and politically oppositional meanings into the postsocialist architectural palimpsest.

ARTMargins, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp. 51-72.



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