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Our collective memory is shaped by the ideology of the day. The politics of memory enables a regime to record its version of the past. History is conditioned by this shared remembrance.

The decaying monuments from Tito’s Yugoslavia form the backdrop for ‘Monumentalism’ – an exhibition curated by Anthony Bautovich at Kudos Gallery in Sydney opening on Tuesday the 8th of November 2016.

Currently undertaking his Masters of Curating at the University of New South Wales Art and Design (UNSWA&D) Anthony has been awarded the 2016 Kudos Gallery Early Career Curator Award. The son of migrants from the former Yugoslavia, the curator’s interest in art from Eastern Europe was the catalyst for ‘Monumentalism’. The exhibition will bring together International and Australian artists to respond to the emotional, political and social impact of the failings of the single party state.

The exhibiting artists are Croatian multimedia artist Igor Grubić (film), Dutch photographer Jan Kempenaers, Sydney artists Tim Bruniges (sound), Biljana Jancić (installation), Kuba Dorabialski (video), Kusum Normoyle (video and performance) and Vienna based artist Marko Lulić (video).

The images featured in Jan Kempenaers’ 2010 book release, ‘Spomenik’, – a Croatian word meaning monument – created an Internet frenzy. The alien like modernist structures in ‘Spomenik’ captured the curiosity of the West. Memorials from the past, these abstract monuments were commissioned by President Josip Broz Tito to convey a sense of confidence and strength in the new Socialist Republic. Designed and built in the ‘60s and ‘70s by leading architects and sculptors from Yugoslavia including Vojin Bakić and Bogdan Bogdanović, these landmarks of modernism are located at sites of battles and concentration camps commemorating the victims of fascism in WW11.

The aesthetic beauty of these brutalist memorials challenges their innate and commemorative intention. Devoid of signs of ideologies, war heroes or religions, these abstract forms were symbols of a modern and unified future. Established as recreational areas to visit and cultivate a sense of national and cultural togetherness, these remote and isolated memorials now lay idle.

As the Balkans War took hold in the early ‘90s and Yugoslavia fell apart, the monuments became touchstones for the inherent hatreds from the past. Many of the monuments have been destroyed and even today the remaining memorials are being dismantled for their raw materials. The authorities turn a blind eye. From triumph to tragedy, these abandoned and decaying forms are a reflection of a broken and disbanded state. The original intention for the creation of the monuments has resulted in their demise. Politics created the monuments and politics has destroyed them.

For a detailed synopsis and press images of the exhibition or further information on the exhibiting artists please contact Anthony Bautovich at homeat735@gmail.com

Where: Kudos Gallery, 6 Napier St, Paddington 2021. (02) 9326 0034
When: Opening 5-7pm on Tuesday the 8th of November.
Live performance on opening night by Kusum Normoyle at 6pm.

The exhibition runs from the 9th to the 19th of November. Gallery hours are Wednesday to Friday 11am – 6pm and Saturday 11am to 4pm.

Curator Tour of the exhibition on Saturday the 12th of November from 2-3pm.

Opening Tuesday 8th of November 5-7pm

For more about monumentalism, visit http://www.anthonybautovich.com/curatingwriting/
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