Abandoned Soviet Monuments From the Future That Were Not

Removed From The Crowd. Unexpected Encounters IV.

Abandoned Soviet Monuments From the Future That Were Not - An exercise in speculative analysis on the viral object “”

Multimedijalni institut - net.kulturni klub MaMa
Preradovićeva 18, Zagreb,

Wednesday, 17.12.2014

16.00 - 21.00

With: Ilya Budraitskis, Ana Teixeira Pinto, Antonia Majaca, Milica Tomic, Andrew Herscher, Branimir Stojanovic, Ivana Bago, Sanja Horvatincic

Organized by Delve - Institute for Duration, Location and Variables,

Unexpected Encounters engage with the phenomena of the delayed audience by looking into the ways in which art forms, practices and encounters get either politicized or depoliticized over time. Aiming at establishing a temporary interpretative community gathered around diverse individual notes and 'theses in the making', the seminars aim to communize individual research and to open thought formation processes to group reflection.

This year’s encounter centers on a seemingly trivial moment in the aesthetico-political history of abstract modernist form, creating an amalgam of an anatomy class and a psychoanalytic session around a specific object – the Internet link This Internet page presented a selection of hyper-aestheticised images of decontextualized Yugoslav modernist monuments dedicated to the antifascist struggle of the WWII while ‘translating’ them into the universal language of the world wide web by coining a symptomatically incorrect title: ‘Abandoned Soviet Monuments That Look Like They Are From The Future’. The web page soon went viral and gained planetary popularity.

The images themselves however, had actually been made a couple of years earlier by a certain Belgian photographer who went on a tour through the post-Yugoslav landscapes in search for the socialist picturesque and dubbed them ‘Spomeniks’ - a hybrid term coined from the English nominative plural form and the South Slavic noun Spomenik [Monument]. Soon after they had made their first rounds on the world wide web, these images started generating wide interest and apparently influenced works exhibited in galleries and art fairs, appearing in low budget sci-fi movies, glossy designer postcards and music videos by British pop bands, even shrinking in size to fit necklaces and earrings sold on online fashion sites. No less symptomatically, they also made their way into diverse forms of more 'serious' and 'critical' ruino-philiac projects in the field of contemporary art, catching the attention of investigative architects and researchers of all kinds. Simply put, the “Spomeniks”, as they were dubbed the first time the depoliticizing Western gaze was placed upon them, witnessed a sudden planetary explosion.

This year's Unexpected Encounters seminar looks both at the digital and analog debris of antifascist socialist-modernist monuments. Reading the title of the viral link itself as a “viral object” provides an entry point for the interpretive community through the interrelated notions of Abandoned, Soviet, From the Future, Monument, Commemoration, Revolution, Depolitization, Cosmism, Universal Language, Internet, Abstract Form as Universal language, Speculative Fiction.

At the same time, the seminar takes place against a backdrop of debate on the monuments of Yugoslav abstract modernism in the post Yugoslav space itself - one which generates either a conservationist impulse or an equally depoliticized folklore of leftist melancholia. Instead of joining the celebration of these monuments' emancipatory political potential, the encounter calls for a demystification and critique of the Yugoslav modernist canon and the ways it is accessed by the left today. It proposes to question these objects as material incarnations of petrified revolution and the prime form of the bureaucratic, post-revolutionary and reactionary moment. We approach these objects, their popular resonances and their place in the reproduction of melancholic leftist mourning neither through the (disciplining) discipline of art history nor through heritage activism. Rather, the seminar is seen as a speculative exercise and a methodological experiment in which the ‘viral object’ is assessed both as the evidence, actant and center of group analysis.

16.00 Intro (Antonia Majaca)
16.15 Ana Teixeira Pinto: Comparative futurology: Soviet Cosmism vs. Capitalist Eschatology
16.45 Ilya Budraitskis: Contradictions of Russian Politics of Memory: The Revolutionary Museum Strikes Back
17.30 Andrew Herscher: The Memory of Politics: Socialist Monuments In Post-(Socialist) Yugoslavia?
17.45 Discussion


18.30 Antonia Majaca: Political History of Forms - Communist Desires, Capitalist Aesthetics.
19.00 Sanja Horvatincic. Undoing the Cabinet of Socialist Curiosities – The Case of Spomeniks
19.30 Branimir Stojanovic: Socialist Modernism - the Prime Form of Counter Revolution?
20.00 Milica Tomic: From Monument to Ruin and Back
20.30 Discussion

Concept by Antonia Majaca.
Discussions moderated by Ivana Bago and Antonia Majaca.