Discursive Program

Within the framework of the project dedicated to Vojin Bakić’s “Monument to the Victory of the People of Slavonia,” a discursive program is envisioned to bring forth and examine specific issues and aspects concerning the state of, and attitudes toward, anti-fascist monuments in contemporary times. The intended participants and target audience comprise the academic and professional community, with the objective of fostering knowledge exchange and stimulating discourse.

The discursive program is conceived as a one-day event, featuring four lectures, each lasting 45 minutes, followed by open discussions. These lectures will delve into five distinct themes:
1. Historical Revisionism and the treatment of monuments commemorating the Second World War – the systematic demolition of anti-fascist heritage.
2. Anti-Fascist monuments beyond urban environments and their surroundings – memorial natural heritage and commemorative sites.
3. Bottom-up Initiatives – new archives and the struggle to preserve anti-fascist heritage.
4. The artistic significance of Vojin Bakić’s memorial monuments
5. Innovative approaches to heritage presentation – incorporating new layers and sustaining collective memory through art.

Upon the conclusion of the scheduled lectures, a moderated discussion will explore the contemporary position of anti-fascist heritage, potential preservation strategies, and the role of memory studies in the broader social field.
The program is open to the public, and lectures will be delivered in both English and Croatian.

Site: Gallery 21, Preradovićeva street 21, Zagreb
Date: Wednesday, October 11, 2023


10:30 SANDRA KRIŽIĆ ROBAN: To participate in an event that we did not witness

11:30 TIHANA PUPOVAC: Online archives and bottom-up practices of memorialization

Coffee break 12:30 – 14:00

14:00 NATAŠA IVANČEVIĆ: The Power of Artistic Creation and Sculptural Synthesis: The Example of Two Monuments by Vojin Bakić

15:00 LANA LOVRENČIĆ: Memorial Sites – Memorialization, Spatial Planning and Nature Conservation

16:00 MISCHA GABOWITSCH: The Russian attack on Ukraine and the effects on Soviet war memorials (the lecture will be delivered in English)

17:00 – 18:30 FINAL DISCUSSION

Participants: Mischa Gabowitsch, Tihana Pupovac, Nataša Ivančević, Sandra Križić Roban, Davorka Perić, Sandro Đukić.
Moderator: Lana Lovrenčić

Note: Regrettably, we must cancel the planned lecture by Mischa Gabowitsch due to the lecturer’s illness.


Memorial Sites – Memorialization, Spatial Planning and Nature Conservation

Within the framework of the topic of erecting anti-fascist monuments outside urban areas and their environment, this lecture will address the issue of memorial natural heritage and memorial sites. For years, both categories have served as legally established mechanisms for protection, arrangement, and memorialization of large spatial areas outside urban centers, that held historical importance for the national liberation struggle. However, their development involved multiple stakeholders and was the result of complex deliberations regarding both memorialization and the use and planning of natural spatial resources. The objective was not only to mark the space by erecting memorial monuments (in the broadest sense), but also to preserve authentic World War II-era objects, nature, and the development of infrastructure and tourism. This lecture will, through examples of the three largest memorial sites in Croatia – Petrova Gora, Kalnik, and Bijeli Potok – Kamensko, as well as the recreational area on the Blažuj hill above the village of Kamenska, where Bakić’s monument was erected, present the evolution of memorial types, their function, and societal role, as well as the consequences of changes in the legislative framework and administrative reforms that followed in the 1990s.

Lana Lovrenčić
holds a degree in Art History and Philosophy and is employed at the Institute of Art History in Zagreb. As a research associate, she has participated in several research projects: Unfinished Modernizations (2010 – 2012), Monuments in Transition. Demolition the Monuments of the People’s Liberation War in Croatia (2011 – 2014), Heroes We Love (2014 – 2017), Forgotten Heritage – European Avant-Garde Art Online (2016 – 2018), and Not Yet Written Stories – Women Artists’ Archives Online (2019 – 2021). She is one of the initiators of the international collaborative platform (In)Appropriate Monuments (2014), within which she worked as a researcher and coordinator until the beginning of 2017. Since 2019, she has been a member of the international working group Post-Socialist and Comparative Memory Studies, which operates within the Memory Studies Association. She is the author or co-author of several exhibitions, including Monuments in Transition. Demolition of NOB monuments in Croatia (2011) and Paths of revolution. Memorial tourism in Yugoslavia (2015). She co-organized several international conferences, including Socialist Monuments and Modernism (2015), Post-War Monuments in Post-Communist Europe (2017) and Post-Socialist Memory in a Global Perspective: Postcolonialism, Post-Transition, Post-Trauma (2020).

Online archives and bottom-up practices of memorialization

Tihana Pupovac has been actively involved in the local and regional independent cultural scene for over a decade. From 2012 to 2016, she coordinated the regional platform “Inappropriate Monuments.” From 2019 to 2021, she served as the coordinator of the MaMa Cultural Center. For more than a decade, she has been engaged in various collaborations and projects related to the heritage of Yugoslavia, primarily through her research involvement within the “Inappropriate Monuments” platform. She specializes in the theory and critique of postsocialism and is interested in feminist and psychoanalytic theory. She works at Kooperativa, a regional platform for culture.

The Power of Artistic Creation and Sculptural Synthesis: The Example of Two Monuments by Vojin Bakić

Vojin Bakić realized two monumental abstract memorials in the territory of Croatia – the Monument to the Revolutionary Victory of the People of Slavonia at Kamenska (1958 – 1968) and the Monument on Petrova Gora (1980). They are dedicated to commemorating the victims of the People’s Liberation War (NOB) and celebrating the victory over fascism. These two monuments represent different typologies and functions within the context of Bakić’s monumental sculptures. Through the reduction of form and the power of artistic creation, the sculptor transcended all existing academicisms present up to the beginning of the 1950s and created works of significance for the sculpture of European modernism. We will present the genesis of the plastic solution, the process of implementing the tender, the elaboration and execution of the solution, and the symbolic dimension of the material and form of both monuments.

Nataša Ivančević graduated in Art History and Comparative Literature from the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Zagreb, where she also completed her postgraduate studies. Since 1995, she has been working in the museum profession, and since 2010, she has been employed at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Zagreb, where she holds the position of Museum Advisor and the Head of the Sculpture Collection. In addition to curating numerous exhibitions of modern and contemporary art, she has been the author of major exhibition projects, including the retrospective of Vojin Bakić’s Luminous Forms (2013), Love and Resistance by Ivana Popović (2018), and Ratko Petrić, Throwing Truth in the Face! (2021), for which she received professional awards for the best annual exhibition in Croatia. In 2015, she completed the two-year National Arts Management Intensive program in Croatia, organized by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Croatia, in partnership with the DeVos Institute of Arts Management at the University of Maryland. In 2018, as a scholarship recipient from the French Ministry of Culture, she attended the seminar “Courants du Monde” – “Building public engagement” in Paris and Nantes.

To participate in an event that we did not witness

In a traditionally based value system, the setting up of monuments forms a place where public art and political memory intersect, reflecting socio-historical and aesthetic discourses. With the fall of the Berlin Wall and the breakup of Yugoslavia, we are witnessing on various sides the extent to which culture – and therefore the monument – can actually become a potential site of conflict. This is partly due to the fact that by setting up monuments, history takes on a certain form that freezes time, impedes progress through forgetfulness, and fixes the state of affairs. Following such considerations, many monuments have been left to be destroyed or moved to new, more “suitable” locations. They are also treated in other ways – through temporary artistic events that challenge their previous celebratory and heroic roles, which were important in the process of supporting political and national cohesion accompanied by solemn official ceremonies. Can we, through temporary, “healing,” and participatory artistic practices, with a focus on the human body as a medium of social space, reach a new level of meaning for monument as place of memory that lives solely from its ability to transform, through continuous renewal of meaning?

Sandra Križić Roban holds a Ph.D. in the field of art history and is engaged in art theory and critique, curatorial practice, teaching, and writing. She works at the Institute of Art History in Zagreb as a tenured senior research associate. Her research interests encompass contemporary art, the history and theory of photography, post-war architecture, issues of public space, and alternative memory strategies. She is one of the founders of the Office for Photography. She has published several books, including Notions Revisited: Positions of Contemporary Croatian Photography (2010), Vlado Martek – Preparing for Photography (2018), and Branko Balić (2022). She has presented her work at international conferences, curated numerous solo and group exhibitions, and authored numerous chapters in books, scientific and professional papers, texts in catalogs, as well as reviews, critiques, and interviews in domestic and foreign printed publications.

The Russian attack on Ukraine and the effects on Soviet war memorials

After the end of the Second World War, memorials to Red Army soldiers were erected in several dozen countries, both inside and outside the former Soviet Union. After 1989, consecutive waves of iconoclasm saw much socialist statuary disappear, but war memorials were often spared, not least because they sat atop burial places. The Russian invasion of Ukraine has led to a new campaign against Soviet war memorials: since February 2022, five European countries have seen the removal of such memorials. Elsewhere, debates continue. This is partly in response to Russia claiming to be the sole heir to the legacy of the Soviet victory in World War II, and to Russia’s own monument policies in the occupied parts of Ukraine. This lecture surveys the recent debate about Soviet war memorials. As a way out of debates that focus only on monuments’ outward political message, it suggests a way of decentering our perspective on monuments by being attentive to their artistic, historic, material, and habitual values.

Mischa Gabowitsch is a Lise Meitner Fellow at the Research Center for the History of Transformations (RECET), University of Vienna. He holds a BA and MA from Oxford University and a PhD from the School for Advanced Social Studies (EHESS) in Paris, and has worked at Princeton University and the Einstein Forum in Potsdam, Germany. His main research interests are in the area of war commemoration and war memorials. He is the author or editor of seven books in various languages, including, in English, Protest in Putin’s Russia (2016), Replicating Atonement: Foreign Models in the Commemoration of Atrocities (2017), and the forthcoming Banners, Flames, and Concrete: War Memorials in Russian-Occupied Ukraine since February 2022 (co-written with Mykola Homanyuk).