All cultural layers of a community can be found, like an open book, in front of readers of landscapes, wrote the geographer Peirce Lewis, i.e. in front of those who know how to observe a landscape and “read” all the symbolic meanings of physical space from it.
I will allow myself the freedom with this notion, with regards to the familiar definition of cultural heritage, to observe it primarily through the prism of spatial research, and say that for me cultural heritage is at the same time the product and the basis of comprehensive transformation of human environment, and that assumes the most valuable form of symbolic reflections of human space, through a series of temporal strata. European cultural heritage assumes the same, but of course, in the space of the entire continent, and due to historical circumstances, even beyond its borders.
Research I deal with in the field of history and the theory of architecture and urbanism, became focussed in time on the process of early urban modernisation, i.e. Europeanisation of Belgrade in XIX century, from the perspective of transforming the urban landscape, and thus also the numerous aspects of redefining spatial relations. Comprehensive changes of the cultural patterns in Serbia of XIX century, make up the historical and social framework where the Belgrade urban landscape was transformed and within which it gradually lost the characteristics determined by the Ottoman city culture, the influence of the history of traditional Christian village communities and the feudal social system. Studying the comprehensive transformation of Belgrade in the period from 1867-1914 opens a wide horizon of questions concerning the role and significance of cultural heritage of the Balkans, in the context of modernisation of the city and careful observation of the diversity of European cultural paradigms, which allows avoiding biased interpretation of currents of this process and opens the field for deeper contemplation of mutual influences.
By researching the ways in which human surroundings change throughout time we get familiar with its changeable and permanent traits, thus gaining a better understanding of the interconnectedness of all processes and actors in it. As the geographer David Cosgrove said, the new layer of urban landscape is created in cooperation of influences of all generally applicable and accepted manners in which a specific community manifests its culture. Urban landscape can be understood as a methodological framework of comprehensive studying of various influences on cultural heritage of the area and a comprehensive observation of spatial characteristics. There are numerous ways, from institutionalised professional education, to other forms of permanent education, organising seminars, public lectures, and the like, which help crystallise deep knowledge of surroundings. During the beginning of this year, ministers of culture of signatory countries of the European Cultural Convention, 1954 and members of the Council of Europe signed the Davos Declaration, (2018: https://davosdeclaration2018.ch/programme/), entitled: Towards a high-quality Baukultur for Europe. Apart from emphasising the dramatic challenges of contemporary world, this document also exposes the urgent need to develop new approaches “for the protection and improvement of cultural values of the developed European environment”, as opposed to obvious problems reflected, among others, in the “trivialisation of construction”, “lack of skilful designing”, “irresponsible utilisation of land”, “devastation of historic urban tissue”, which is something we are also witnessing in our own environment. This European initiative, whose 23 action points propagate the creation of high values and quality of the comprehensive concept of Baukultur, assumes, among other things, the totality of human milieu, i.e. “existing buildings, including monuments and other elements of cultural heritage, and also design and construction of modern buildings, infrastructure, public spaces and landscapes”. I believe this can be a shared platform for the development of cultural heritage awareness (and its contemporary reflection in physical space), as a process which should unite all educators, experts, scientists and researchers in the field of cultural heritage of a developed environment, and other related fields.
From July 2018 to January 2019, in the New York Museum of Modern Art, МоМА, the exhibition Toward a Concrete Utopia Architecture in Yugoslavia, 1948–1980 is taking place, the curator of which is our colleague, architect, professor and architecture historian, Vladimir Kulić PhD (FAU – School of Architecture). This event was pointed out by professor Irina Subotić PhD in her text here, published in February 2018. Meanwhile, the exhibition was opened, and it achieved a resounding success, diverting attention to undoubtable qualities of heterogenous architectonic Modernism of Yugoslavia. What is also very important for me, are the initiatives and events sparked off by this exhibition, like, for example International Forum: Creation of a Concrete Utopia – Architecture of Yugoslavia 1848-1980, by the editor and author, architect Ljubica Slavković, that took place in the Centre for Cultural Decontamination in Belgrade in November 2018, with accompanying programme organised by the Faculty of Architecture of the University of Belgrade and Architectuul, online platform (Berlin).
Recently, the Museum of the City of Belgrade published the book of authors, colleagues Zlata Vuksanović Macura PhD, scientific associate of the Geographic Institute “Jovan Cvijić” SASA and Angelina Banković MA, Senior Curator of the Museum of the City of Belgrade, entitled: Measures of the City. Maps and Plans from the Collection of Papers for Architecture and Urbanism of the Museum of the City of Belgrade. This book received the second award, in the category of publications, on the 27th International Salon of Urbanism, in November 2018. The monography offers spatial and visual characteristics of plans and maps of Belgrade in the period from 1865-1969, revealing the richness of this unjustly neglected cultural heritage of the city.
I would like to emphasise one of the events at the Faculty of Forestry of the University of Belgrade belonging to the mentioned category. On the occasion of the International Day of Landscapes, on 20th October at the Faculty of Forestry, an exhibition was organised in cooperation with the Ministry of Environmental Protection of the Republic of Serbia, consisting of works created by students of the Department for Landscape Architecture and Horticulture entitled: Landscape and Education, which presented the results of work dedicated to gaining knowledge on planning and designing, protection and arranging landscapes. The exhibition was organised within IX Green Fest, International Festival of Green Culture, that took place in the Youth Centre of Belgrade in November 2018.
Architect Dragana Ćorović is a docent of the Faculty of Forestry of the University of Belgrade. She deals with scientific research in the fields of history and the theory of architecture, urbanism and landscapes and urban history of Belgrade. She has been gaining experience in higher education of architects since 2000 at the Faculty of Architecture UB, where she obtained an MA mentored by Ljiljana Blagojević PhD, 2008, on the topic of applying urbanist concept of a garden city in Belgrade between the two world wars. She obtained her PhD at the same faculty in 2015, also mentored by Ljiljane Blagojević PhD, on the topic of transformation of urban landscape of Belgrade in XIX century. She is the author of the book Garden City in Belgrade, 2009. She was elected a docent at the Department of Landscape Architecture and Horticulture of the Faculty of Forestry UB, in 2016, where she also teaches the subject Contemporary Landscape Architecture and Urban Landscape: Research and Understanding.
Cultural heritage as a specific characteristic of one area, region or country, represents an integral part of European, i.e. world cultural heritage. Whether we are speaking about Knjaževac, Timočkakrajina, Serbia or another country, what we recognise as “our” cultural heritage, in the widest sense, is actually just a small fragment or element of the corpus of world cultural heritage, the history of the world. The special question which largely influences the relation to and the manner of treating one’s own cultural heritage, is the question of valuing and understanding it.
Cultural heritage in concert with the natural surroundings creates a cultural landscape which in a special way reflects the cooperation between people and nature. Specific architectonic entities, historical trading districts, bridges, individual cultural monuments or monument entities are just some of the elements creating a specific image and impression of a certain place. On the other hand, the most important trait, potential and wealth of a place are people. They reflect the “spirit of the city”, spread and emit messages deeply woven into the genetic code of every living being. They are the conveyors of sense, meaning, memory, identity…
This is the case with the town of Knjaževac, which although small, has been home to geat people, and which today, as a winner of the European Destinations of Excellence Award (EDEN), through its charm and rich natural and cultural heritage, attracts numerous researchers, visitors, tourists, adventurers, gourmands, enjoyers in a special way…
In this sense, the Homeland Museum of Knjaževac, as „a small local“ museum, observes and treats the cultural heritage of the Knjaževac area as the greatest potential for the future, the most important resource for sustainable development of the local community, which although very rich is not sustainable. Hence, while believing in the sustainable “use” of cultural heritage, we base on and relate all our programmes and projects to cultural heritage, both tangible and intangible. On the other hand, our museum is developing different programmes and projects assuming international partnerships, exchange of knowledge and experiences, joint activities. We also participated in cross-border cooperation programmes, cooperated with colleagues from the region and the area of former Yugoslavia, which certainly should be marked as a period representing bright moments of our shared European past, regardless of different interpretations and perceptions of the former state.
Museums and cultural institutions are a part of the educational system. It is very important that in our work, apart from constant endeavours to improve the operation of cultural institutions and raising awareness of the importance of preserving and presenting cultural heritage, that we also develop educational programmes intended for the widest audience. Precisely this approach is giving us an opportunity to relate the data we are reaching through our work to the surroundings we are inhabiting, to specific periods and important historical moments, comparing and making parallels. What is interesting for comparing and understanding what we know as European heritage today are the Medieval period, Renaissance, Baroque, the Enlightenment and the Romance period, the industrial revolution, and of course the inevitable wars, inter-war and post-war periods, the second half of XX century…
An important step in interpreting the European identity is the inclusion of Serbia into the great international project of studying visual culture and the private life, participation in projects such as the Europeana… Moreover, this also includes the initiative to certify European cultural routes, connecting with colleagues in the region and beyond, and also joint participation in international competitions, the use of international funds and programmes of marking international manifestations (Days of European Heritage and others). There are many individual examples of cooperation between our cultural institutions with corresponding European institutions. Certainly, in this sense, great attention and respect go to the activities of the Gallery of Matica Srpska, nomination of our museums for the European Museum Award (Old Village Sirogojno…), activities of the Museum of Yugoslavia, the Grand Prize of Europa Nostra fort the project of Gostuša and Vekovi Bača which we can proudly emphasise as probably the most complex and all-encompassing, the choosing of Novi Sad as the European Capital of Culture, and many others. There are numerous brilliant examples of cooperation between our cultural institutions and European partners within “smaller” projects.
In my opinion, including our institutions into the activities and programmes of the Balkan network of museums and the joint activities of Cultural heritage Without Borders in the area of the wider region contributes to new valuation and representation of shared European identity and belonging. Not only in the geographic sense, but ever other sense as well. This kind of joint initiatives, and especially their realisation, once again confirm the belonging to the group of European peoples and conveys a different message from the area of the Balkans.
Marking the European year of cultural heritage has special importance for all of us. For heritage in general. Two programmes of the Homeland Museum of Knjaževac carry the national mark EYCH, one is dedicated to the marking of one hundred years from the end of WWI, and the second one deals with preservation of intangible heritage elements and education, which in no case means that other activities cannot be put in a wider context of European heritage. Our museum equally cares about the accessibility of the programme and building for physically challenged persons (Museum for everyone – museum for the take out), it is supporting and developing a programme of social entrepreneurship the aim of which is preservation of traditional crafts and techniques (Connecting threads), knowledge and skills (Summer school of traditional crafts),for a number of years it has been conducting activities with the aim of developing educational tourism (Education adventure of the Homeland Museum), it supports the development of cultural tourism (The path of Roman emperors, Wine routes of Serbia, the Danube wine route)and it is trying to approximate content to the new audience by using modern technologies.
Milena Milošević Micić, M.A. art historian and museum professional, works as a senior curator and acting director of the Homeland Museum of Knjaževac. For the past 16 years she has been dedicated to museum profession as a curator, educator, PR, project manager, director with a main goal to develop new role of the museum in the local community through various museum programs, projects and collection interpretation and presentation. She believes that museums are public spaces open for everyone, forums for open dialogs or debates, places of unique values of common heritage. Her fields of expertise are: art history, museum studies and heritology, museum management and marketing in culture, collection management, accessibility and social inclusion, cultural and educational tourism, project management. She is a member of ICOM, Serbian Museum Association (Section for art history, pedagogy and PR& marketing) and proud member of the Balkan Museum Network’s Steering Board and Access Group and member of the American Alliance of Museums.
Contemplating on European cultural heritage assumes simultaneously observing the complexity of the duration and intertwining of centuries and the millennia, numerous peoples and civilisations, and at the same time the simplicity of the feeling of continuity as well, contained in every sensible human being living in this area.
The fact that heritage is all around us and a part of our lives, and hence, that all us also have to belong somewhere and to something, are key to its understanding and preservation, whether we are speaking about a private legacy, a piece of personal history, or national cultural monuments or collections.
I generally don’t approve of using commonplace expressions and terms such as “Serbia at the crossroads of the East and the West” and the like, but it is a fact that this area of ours was truly throughout history a battlefield of great turbulence and turning points, that the mighty West and the great East came and went away, seeking and finding their interest precisely in our country and that this is still ongoing. Hence, our and European history are a single inseparable entity.
There are bright moments in our history when our creators while upgrading their qualities and skills using the knowledge and experience of other civilisations and nations succeeded in ascending high above their role models and teachers, but also above their own time, and this is what should represent our pride and inspiration for the future.
There are such examples in all spheres of life, and there were many more in the long and rich culture of Serbian people.
From the first contact with heritage, across numerous experiences, as a student, associate and director of the Institute, to being a founder of a non-governmental organisation, I cannot abandon the impression that our heritage is definitely the most secure in the hands of the youth.
Symbolically, one of the educational programmes of UNESCO, intended for people up to 26 years old, concerned with volunteer camps across the globe, bears precisely this name – “Heritage in our Hands”. This is where all the wisdom is, and all our past and the bright future, in the hands of those who will be making decisions in the years to come. Several key moments are contained precisely in that sentence. Firstly, a young mind desires knowledge and recognition, and the contact with heritage will satisfy both of these needs. Heritage is an inexhaustible source of information, and caring about it offers great satisfaction, awakens the awareness of its importance and creates an inseverable bond with something yearning for continuous attention and nurturing. Secondly, the energy borne by young people, especially at the beginning of their professional careers, is incomparable with anything else, hence channelling it into such a sensitive and important sphere of culture is certainly a great step towards a better future. And the third, and perhaps the most important was expressed through the wisdom of ancient philosophers and, in a way, it sublimes the previous two theses, and it is so easily applicable precisely to our story: to educate the mind, and not the heart, is worthless. There is no mistake with heritage, both aspects will be satisfied.
The Foundation of the Architect Aleksandar Radović is focussed precisely on young people, hence for us this year was also dedicated to programmes intended for them.
In March we awarded the second Award bearing the name of our esteemed colleague and one of the most fruitful conservators Serbia ever had. The Architect Aleksandar Radović Award was established precisely to support young creators who already had contact with heritage in their work or who are successfully and seriously dealing with these topics.
The recently completed two-week volunteer restoration camp bearing the name “Adopt a Household in Gostuša”, is a part of a great international programme encompassing 15 projects from 8 countries, and it was realised in cooperation with the organisation European Heritage Volunteers from Weimar in Germany. This is a project which had the mark of the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018 both in Germany and in our country, and it represents the rounding of the several years long work on the so-called “stone village” on the Balkan Mountains. We started in 2010, conducted voluminous researches in 2012 and 2013 and systematised all the data within the Study which was published in 2015, and already in 2016 it brought the first Europa Nostra award and the Grand-Prix of the European Union.
The programmes for the youngest ones are expected soon within the manifestation “The night of researchers”, when we will present ourselves through educational games united under the title “Stories from the stone”, when we will present interesting facts from one of our most important archaeological sites, Caričin grad.
Of course, we placed the focussed throughout the year precisely on the European Year of Cultural Heritage through regular activities, and all of this with the desire to inform as many people as possible about the existence of such a programme and the fact that Serbia, in a way, participates as an equal in its, like other European countries, and also that huge financial means are not necessary to do this, and neither are great efforts, but instead that everyone can make their small contribution.
Elena Vasić Petrović is born in 1978 in Pirot. She graduated from the Faculty of Civil Engineering and Architecture in Niš in 2004. During the same year she started working at the Institute for the Protection of Cultural MonumentsNiš (2004 – 2012 Associate, 2012 – 2017 Director). She became specialized in stone restoration in 2011 (ISCR/Roma_Italyand CIK/Belgrade_Serbia)and the Management of Archeological Sites with Mosaics (Getty Conservation Institute/LA_USA).
She is the author of: 7 exhibitions, a newspapers column, 30 works and articles and 3 publications, all from the field of the protection of cultural heritage. She is the Founder and ChiefEditor of “Stubovibaštine” a gazette of the Institute for the Protection of Cultural MonumentsNiš. She is the winner of the Europa Nostra Award and the Grand-Prix of the European Union for 2016 for the Study on the protection of the village of Gostuša in the Municipality of Pirot. She is the Founder and Manager of the Foundation of the Architect Aleksandar Radović.
The shared past and the shared future! Respect of your own and acceptance of other nation’s values. The need to get to know each other. The wealth of cultural diversity.
Language, script, personal archives, memorabilia, family heirloom, customs, memories, monuments, architecture, archaeological sites, museum collections, music, graffiti, clothing culture… Everything we bring with ourselves when emigrating and living in other countries and what we adopt from other cultures and bring back home.
In my travels around European cities, it was especially interesting to analyse the names of the streets on maps and signs as one of a kind stories about the history of a city, a country.
The Medieval period, WWI, WWII – the kingdom, then Partisans and Chetniks. Wars on the territory of former Yugoslavia, dissolution of the country I was born and grew up in…
I have a completely different perception of all these historical events today as opposed to the time when I discovered and learned about this in school… The more I find out by reading history literature, not only the domestic one, the more I am confused. However, reading the works of contemporary literature offers me the capability to have an honest, different, human perception of historical events. Experiences and emotions of people in different historical contexts are recorded and described in all shades in literary works. This always gives me more space to contemplate about the European cultural heritage than cross matching historical facts and artefacts does.
An opportunity and possibility to travel across Europe is the most important thing in developing awareness of the European cultural heritage. Meeting and spending time with people from other countries. Reading poetry and fiction of European writers, going to the theatre, watching European films, the documentary and the feature ones, visiting galleries and museums. Essentially, developing cultural needs and habits.
The documentary film “Čija je ovo pesma” (“Whose song is this?”), but also other documentary film productions dealing with ordinary people’s stories from different parts of Europe. The Festival of Feature-length Documentary Film “7 veličanstvenih”, Film Festival “Slobodna zona”. Theatrical play CARSTVO NEBESKO, with its premiere at the Bitef Festival, a co-production of the National Theatre and the Bitef Theatre. The October Salon in Belgrade, the Venice Biennale, the Bemus Festival, the Womex Festival, the Nova Festival in Pančevo, the music festivals in Romania, the TodoMundo Festival, the manifestation Belgrade Days… Literature-literary translations-Thomas Bernhard, Amin Maalouf, Orhan Pamuk, Crnjanski, Andrić, Kiš…
The European project on cultural routes where Serbia is participating through activities of the Touristic Organisation of Serbia.
The Danube, Sava… For several years, and maybe even a decade back projects from the field of tourism and culture thematically dealing with the Danube, through activities of Danube Centre offices, are important. Danube as the reason and inspiration to contemplate about history in the European space. In the beginning I perceived thematic projects on the Danube as touristic attractions and manifestations, musical and entertaining ones beside and on the water… And then I realised the Danube is the reason of and an incredible inspiration for confrontation with history, borders and divisions in history from both sides of the river through cultural projects. Customs, tradition, food, everyday habits, life and faith of people beside the Danube, to what extent and whether they are different in historical circumstances they took place in along the banks of the river flowing through the largest part of Europe? Danube as the reason to create a new cultural identity and unity of inhabitants of the Danube river banks.
The second example are industrial heritage and cultural centres established in abandoned factories and military buildings since the end of the eighties, as a one of a kind cultural project in comparison to institutional culture. In fact, the independent cultural scene as a whole since the end of the eighties. The production and work of these independent institutions improved communication and cultural exchange in the lack of these by official institutional systems.
Digitalisation as an especially current topic here is very important in changing the awareness of citizens and institutions of the availability and a new form of communication in all fields of cultural heritage, in the spirit of the digital and virtual world we live in. The need for getting familiar with, sharing and exchanging the application of new technologies is another, bigger opportunity to create and present the European cultural identity.
I would particularly emphasise Europeana project having a great importance in raising awareness of the European cultural heritage. For example, during this year, 2018, Europeana will work on a thematic collection dedicated to migration in, out of and through Europe. Based on documented materials of institutions and individuals about traces of material culture but also personal stories and archives about migrations in Europe throughout several centuries, a story about their influence on science and art of the European cultural space will be presented.
On Kolarac until the beginning of May, in cooperation with the office of the EU Info Centre in Belgrade, an exhibition of photographs is taking place on the occasion of marking the European Year of Cultural Heritage – photographic documents from the Europeana archive.
From the beginning of autumn until the end of the year, in cooperation with the Musicology Institute of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts, and on the occasion of their jubilee of 70 years of existence, we will organise several lectures about musical cultural heritage and some of the topics will be: Music in the private life of Serbs in the 19th century, Music in Serbian hostage theatres during the Great War, then the International stars on the concert podium of Kolarac from 1932 to 1941, music creativity of our authors globally…and other interesting topics from music history.
This year, the focus is especially the digitalisation of archive material of Kolarac, as a unique history of culture and the music art from 1932 until today. We haven’t acquired the necessary equipment related to the realisation of these activities yet, but we are aware this is our priority and our obligation for the sake of future generations.
Memories – at least the important ones, constitutive for identity, whether personal or collective – can be positive, encouraging and negative, traumatic. However, problems in international (interethnic, intercultural…) relations emerge when feelings about these very events are contradictory – for some of them they are beautiful and liberating, and for the other ones they are painful and undesirable. Different views on shared history can be a reason to create conflicts and we in the Southeast part of Europe know this well. Due to the complex history of the continent – from noble deeds and discoveries, to involuntary migrations and wars, but also due to numerous distortions and political revisions, European memory is flooded with various feelings: pride, contentment, happiness, hope, but also guilt, sorrow, regret, fear and confusion.
I would argue this is of key importance so we do not cease asking questions about the European past, monitor how we remember and feel, and maintain the dialogue about the past alive. The past must not be “musealised”, we must not “draw the line” – as Todor Kuljić, a sociologist and the author of the study Culture of Remembrance argues. The year when the European year of cultural heritage is being celebrated can precisely serve as a reason for this reminder.
Bearing all of this in mind, I believe it is desirable cultural professionals work on discovering, public presentation and maintenance of all, even the conflict narratives of remembrance, and thus encourage exchange and understanding, overcoming collective traumas and symbolic social divisions. The biggest task in this work is finding models of presenting the past which will acknowledge different memories (fears and hope and pride and humiliation) and truly encourage connecting rather than deepening conflicts. Exhibitions, debates and other projects producing and confirming only one, exclusive narrative of the past, most probably will not aid in healing the society and encouraging the freedom of speech. On the other hand, sensitivity to other and different versions of the past, their acknowledgement and integration into the public sphere, hence: empathy, creating a testimonial alliance, inclusive remembrance – can probably do this. Expressions of memories, testimonials, therapy – these are all ambiguous processes assuming the involvement of interested parties, inclined listeners and liberation, establishment of closeness and trust, and at the bottom line: serenity and peace.
As much as cultural and linguistic diversity of Europe is its strength, it can to the same extent be its weakness – and this is what one ought to bear in mind when designing and realising projects of cultural heritage in Europe. They should truly be open, and this openness assumes respecting oneself and respecting others, and it also carries readiness to learn, to re-examine and accept differences. Apart from such an approach to presenting the past, it is equally important – from the perspective of modernity and in the interest of the future – to shed light on social mechanisms used to write the past, encourage critical thinking, media literacy and the research spirit with everyone, and especially young people.
Nina Mihaljinac (Belgrade, 1987) is a Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Dramatic Arts Belgrade and the UNESCO Chair in Cultural Management and Cultural Policy, University of arts Belgrade. She also works as a Project Manager in the Creative Europe Desk Serbia. She has a PhD in Theory of Arts and Media, University of Arts Belgrade. Nina has participated in numerous national and international cultural and scientific projects in cultural policy, cultural management and culture of remembrance. She has published numerous papers and two books: Audience development in Serbia (ed. with Dimitrije Tadic), Ministry of Culture and Information of Republic of Serbia (Belgrade, 2015) and Key notions of Gallery Management (Belgrade, 2012).
The thirteenth Belgrade International Architecture Week – BINA, under the slogan From Communis to Communication, is dedicated to communications in architecture, communication via architecture and the spread of ideas about relations in the city. A special part of BINA’s program deals with establishing a dialogue with the past through the majestic architecture of academian and professor Ivan Anti
(1923-2005), as well as with the present through projects Creative Europe Cities Sharing: Creative Momentum and Future Architecture.
European cultural heritage represents a shared space of the European continent that has its own history, culture and future. Architecture, nature and cultural heritage of cities of Europe, but also modern strategies and aspirations are the most important part of future development of the European continent. I believe that initiatives of international cooperation pursued by the EU for some time now are very important because they represent a collection of joint efforts towards sustainable cities of the future which will reconcile, on the one hand, tendencies of great expansion of cities and possibilities of stopping the commercialisation of building construction and, on the other hand, aspirations of practitioners and theoreticians of architecture which have a proclivity towards establishing a dialogue with the past and the development of new, modern directions in the future.
In the field of architectural heritage we are witnessing great collapse of Modern Movement buildings which vanished in a short period of time, while being the bearers of time after WWII which united the European space. This period was neglected for many years, and now it is the focus of the global public.
A working group was formed in Belgrade within the Association of Belgrade Architects, Docomomo Serbia (2010), as a part of the Docomomo International (an international working group for documenting and conserving buildings, locations and entities of the Modern Movement, 1988), working on collecting documents about the most important buildings created during this period on the territory of the Republic of Serbia, and on the other hand, striving to promote, educate, initiate and urge the public in order to establish a dialogue and protection from the decay of buildings from this period. Based on conferences (BINA 2009), exhibitions (BINA 2012, 2017), staged debates, discussions, and workshops that took place, as well as activities of our presidents (Ljiljana Blagojević PhD, Dobrivoje Erić MA), persistence of the Secretary Jelica Jovanović, coordinators, members and associates, we reached very important conclusions and documents that need to be used with the aim of preserving our cultural heritage of the Modern Movement in cooperation with institutions (the Ministry of Culture and Information, Secretariat for Culture of the City of Belgrade, Belgrade City Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments, Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments of Serbia and others). Currently there is a discussion on the most important building of Milica Šterić (1914-1988), the former building of Energoprojekt, which received the 7th July Award in the past and which is in the process of reconstruction.
An especially important topic is the one concerning the preservation and reconstruction of the urbanist entity of the city — New Belgrade, one of the extremely important new cities from this period. Many researches speak about the importance and recognisability of the city of Belgrade through the prism of development of urbanism, architecture and typology of residential architecture of New Belgrade of the Modern Movement. An especially important fact is that at that time all important public buildings, as well as many residential complexes were realised through victories on architectonic and urbanist competitions which even today represent the most democratic way of choosing high quality architectonic concepts.
Another testament to the great importance of this architectonic period is the great exhibition in New York at the MoMA Museum entitled Towards a Concrete Utopia: Architecture in Yugoslavia, 1948-1980, which will be opened in mid-July this year, as the first presentation of exquisite works of leading architects of socialist Yugoslavia to the American and international public, and also an event where our experts will participate (prof. Vladimir Kulić PhD, prof. Tanja Damljanović Konli PhD, Jelica Jovanović and others).
Education on space, in a multidisciplinary manner (architecture, geography, sociology, history, philosophy, economics, technology, art and others) should be started from the earliest days of a human being in order to build a relationship and understanding. It is necessary to promote architecture and the phenomenon of space during primary school, but also during the continued education. There are projects dealing with preparing materials and books that can be important companions in the realisation and creative development of different programmes and projects of education.
EU projects of European cooperation Creative Europe, where our country is a participant are the right place to empower belonging to a shared space. The Future Architecture Platform (FAP) and Shared Cities: Creative Momentum (SCCM) precisely connect 21 countries of the European continent (2016-2020, organised by BINA-DAB and KCB). My colleagues Danica Jovović Prodanović, Ružica Sarić, Aleksandar Kotevski, Tatijana Vukosavljević, Ivan Kucina, Natalija Jovanović and many young architects, and also initiatives Park Keepers and Škograd are currently working on developing a programme for the ensuing period characterised by the use and improvement of public spaces of the city, interventions, urban design, action schools and an interesting programme with citizens.
The new museum in Berlin of the architect David Chipperfield and his team (David Chipperfield Architects, 2009) which was created by reconstructing and additional constructing of the existing and demolished museum is the right answer and a successful example speaking about the dialogue between the old and the new creativity.
Our bureau (BiroVIA) is currently working on developing a reconstruction project and additional constructing of the Museum of the city of Belgrade, the building of once the new Military Academy (1899), whose author was the architect Dimitrije Leka (1863-1914) and the main topic of the project, the architectonic concept which won at the competition is establishing a dialogue between the inherited architecture and the modern concept.
The New Museum in Berlin (David Chipperfield Architects, 2009)
BINA (Belgrade International Architecture Week) is a project organised by the Association of Belgrade Architects and the Cultural Centre of Belgrade successfully cooperating with partners from the fields of economy, industry, education, tourism, cultural centres in Serbia, Europe and on the international scene for thirteen years. BINA was designed as a call to the architectural and the wider public to contemplate on the quality of constructed space, while at the same time it represents an encouragement to establish criteria and a value system which would contribute to improvement of the future architectonic production.
BINA is the first manifestation to design and organise architectonic walks promoting the heritage of cities of Serbia to the public by engaging experts who interactively interpret, analyse and establish better understanding of our architecture and culture. Our surprise throughout all these years is to that extent greater because we have to repeat certain walks due to a great number of participants and exquisite interest of the audience.
BINA authors and the founding team successfully collaborate with a vast number of governmental and non-governmental organisations due to the desire to empower architecture in Serbia and make it our export product in the future (the example of the Chilean architecture in the world).
In the context of promoting 2018 as the European year of cultural heritage: BINA has set celebrating the diversity and wealth of our cultural heritage as the central topic of the festival through the innovative and interactive programme. The study exhibition The Architectonic, Ivan Antić (1923-2005) presents the most important works of creativity of Serbian Architecture from XX century. The authors of the exhibition prof. Dijana Milašinović Marić PhD and Igor Marić PhD stated that Ivan Antić is an exquisite architect, professor and academic whose unambiguous architectonics is unique and striking. Within the accompanying programme there will be organised staged debates, discussions, exhibition guides, workshops, short trips and walks through the works of this creator of the Modern Movement (10-31.05.2018, gallery of RTS).
* Archive of Dijana Milašinović Marić and Igor Marić, authors of the exhibition
Jelena Ivanović-Vojvodić (1962) graduated and received her PhD from the Faculty of Architecture of the University of Belgrade. She worked as a professor and a dean of the Faculty of Applied Arts and Design. She realised a great number of buildings and interiors and won a series of professional recognitions and awards. She is a member of the Union of Architects of Serbia, Association of Belgrade Architects, Docomomo Serbia, Serbian Chamber of Engineers, and Women’s Architectural Society. She is the Director and Co-Founder of the Belgrade International Architecture Week – BINA. She is also a Co-Founder and Owner of the architectonic company BiroVIA (together with prof. Goran Vojvodić).
The European Year of Cultural Heritage is an opportunity to re-examine what we know in the context of contemporary social discussions. On potentials of cultural heritage from our part of the world, and also its importance in the European context we spoke with Ana Pejović, Coordinator of Association Krokodil.
European cultural heritage represents a diverse, rich, inspirational community of historical artefacts, events, a mosaic representing Europe in all its breadth as a continent containing so many distinctive cultures. As such, it represents an important momentum for future generations and a basis for rethinking and establishing different, dynamic relationships both within a single community and between different communities Europe is comprised of. Cultural heritage offers an opportunity for new narratives and for more modern reading and understanding of cultural history, and its connecting with the modern times.
That would primarily be the heritage of anti-fascism. Even though it is not strictly related to culture, in the age of the second Yugoslavia it was the basis for finding new relations and new narratives in contemplating culture. Its principles of freedom, justice and ethics are an important segment of cultural heritage of this country.
Moreover, there was also the period of modernisation of the Serbian state after the final liberation in 1863, when Serbia was attempting to catch up with the Western states, and when opening towards those cultures also occurred.
Even though it was certainly not the brightest period of Serbian history, the period of Ottoman rule is very interesting and inspirational in the light of Balkan countries which were a part of the Ottoman Empire, but also the wider area of the Caucasus and Asia Minor, where there are many less known but equally interesting cultural similarities and intertwining.
To me personally, the dearest moment is exactly the period of creation of socialist Yugoslavia as a modernisation process that held culture very highly in its priorities. Bordered by language, we belong to the same cultural space about which we unfortunately know less by the day.
Primarily by finding a neutral, contemporary narrative which would be far from nationalist tendencies, but also from ideological pressures. An important role in this should be played by the educational system, which has always been, unfortunately, burdened by political currents of the moment.
I believe amazing initial steps were made in the project of Senjski Rudnik as one of excellent examples of industrial heritage in Serbia. Industrial heritage is on a particularly low level, so I am highlighting this project in hope that the initial plans of creating a city-museum will come to fruition.
The potential some projects of cultural heritage have in trans-cultural cooperation often boils down to mere touristic presenting. A positive example of cooperation through creative industries is e.g. the brand Folkk, using immaterial heritage of Pirot rugs and in general handmade works.
This year we are initiating the project Historians against Revisionism which will be dedicated to a large extent to Yugoslavian heritage.
Ana Pejović (born in 1980 in Prijepolje, Serbia, then SFR Yugoslavia), graduated from the Department of English Language and Literature, Faculty of Philology, University of Belgrade. From 2002 to 2008 she worked in the publishing house Rende as a proof reader, assistant editor and editor. From 2009 to 2011 she worked in the Belgrade branch of the Croatian publishing house VBZ, as an assistant editor and editor. During the nine years of work in publishing, she edited more than two hundred books, mostly contemporary titles from the region and Europe. She translated several books from English, including “The British Museum is Falling Down” written by David Lodge. In 2009 she co-founded Association Krokodil with Vladimir Arsenijević, where she works as a project manager and chief coordinator. She is actively participating in all undertakings and fields of activity of Association Krokodil – festivals, guest appearances, with a special emphasis on Association Krokodil’s House for writers.
New challenges in the European year of cultural heritage
Heritage is a complex and seductive notion. Exactly the latter makes many think they know everything about heritage and that they know how to handle it. However, in the year ahead of us which is called the European year of cultural heritage, I would suggest that everyone in Serbia dealing with this area takes the test of conscientious heritage management. It appears not many actors in this field would pass it. First of all, for something to be classified as European cultural heritage significant academic and scientific efforts should be invested so we could make sense of the transformations of the past and understand the flow of time, then we should do everything so people today through metamorphoses of the past conjoin in something noble. This will be a trial stepping stone of our readiness to be a part of Europe. I know that many will retort to this statement of mine: but we are already in Europe! We are not as long as doors are widely open to those dealing with heritage without consulting the profession, not until we understand that inheriting is a process of cultivating heritage rather than merely owning it. Without professionalism in dealing with this field we will sell our heritage out for a song!
I have spent the last decade pondering the space of the reputable place Tršić with the aim of redefining it, bearing in mind that in the period during the end of XX and the beginning of XXI century it was a derelict ambient lacking ideas. I will share with the readers a short overview of what has been done with the hope that to some of them this could be an encouragement to contemplate and an action model with the intent of cultivating heritage.
Tršić is a reputable place owing its reputation to Vuk Karadžić, the reformer of the Serbian language in the same way Yasnaya Polyana owes its recognition to Leo Tolstoy or Stratford-upon-Avon to Shakespeare. Vuk Karadžić conducted the reform of the Serbian language by creating a standardised language out of a vernacular dialect and by finalising the begun reform of orthography. Vuk collected a vast folk treasure, customs, oral narratives and beliefs and wrote them down and published them in several books. He also published the first Serbian grammar book and dictionary.
Due to his work Vuk Karadžić enabled a different perception of Serbian culture and changed its foundations. Milan Kašanin, a notable theoretician and critic, called Vuk a literary statesman (Kašanin, 2001, p.5) due to this, a man who set completely new boundaries in Serbian culture, language and literature and thus changed its perception not only within Serbia, but also in Europe.
In my perception of Europe, literature and languages make up exactly the strongest basis of the final weaving called diverse cultural heritage of the old continent. Regardless of languages being a barrier, they are exactly what guides us and enable permanent and continuous dialogue between literatures, philosophies, theatrical and other types of creativity and thus, through this dialogue, forge the identity of the community of European peoples. The first lesson on this was delivered exactly by Vuk.
A great mythical and symbolic potential is interweaved in the name and work of Vuk Karadžić. This great symbolic potential is omnipresent in the village of his birth which has been charted on the cultural map of Europe since 1933 when the memorial house of this language reformer was opened and the first Vuk’s gathering of manifestations dedicated to linguistic and artistic creativity took place. Since then Tršić became a space where the real and the imaginary are inscribed in the same location. And in this way they notify our perception about what was happening in the past, but at the same time open a vast field of the possible. Tršić is a space filled with possibility written down by Vuk and his collaborators, opponents, his predecessors and numerous successors and interpreters of his work in the past 200+ years.
Bearing all of this in mind, in the beginning of 2008 I started realising the project of redefining the reputable place. In several points it went on like this:
– Primarily it was necessary to conserve the devastated buildings, including Vuk’s memorial house which was completed in 2008,
– Following this, during the same year, USDIA approved the project of revitalising the buildings at the assembly point: a traditional tailor workshop, gingerbread making workshop, Museum of Vuk’s gatherings (with the aim of nurturing culture of remembering through critical presentation of history of the oldest cultural manifestation in Serbia), workshop of old crafts, study room Vuk and Science were opened. These buildings had no content in the previous period, and through this project the space was revived, offering visitors the possibility to get familiar with a portion of our heritage and to participate in the creation of tradition they are bearers of through work with experts,
– In 2010 the House of Writers was opened which until today hosted numerous authors from: Spain, Great Britain, Greece, Bulgaria, Italy, Japan, Egypt, Australia, Germany, the Republic of Srpska, Croatia, Russia, Israel, Canada… Through the realisation of numerous residential stays of literary writers, translators and artists Tršić is living its grand potential. Through its exquisitely beautiful nature, intertwined with symbols, Tršić became a space which liberated its visitors, according to their own testimonials. Residential stay of artists, their mobility, makes this reputable place a space of great dialogue, a meeting place of cultures and a place of open liberal talks. The mobility of artists and cultural workers is exactly what contributes to the greatest extent to developing of consciousness and empowerment of the feeling of a common European cultural space,
– By opening the Museum of Language and Letters in 2011, additional emphasis of the importance of language was enabled in the domain of immaterial heritage and the story about the importance of the contact between different cultures was expanded. The following activities were initiated in the Museum of Language and Letters: a literary workshop for primary and high school students “Dugo leto za kratke price” (“Long summer for short stories”), sound workshops “Vuk i ZVuk“(“Vuk and Sound”), summer internships for students of ethnology and anthropology, summer language schools, schools of cultural history and translation for students whose mother tongue is not Serbian. They left their art works, their translations, and their texts dealing with different topics and written for different purposes. In this way they multiplied the semantic field of our “small culture”. We are using the notion “small culture” in the sense it has with professor Norris in his work “In the Wake of the Balkan Myth”. Professor Norris said that each small culture is aware that its semantic field is created from the outside and that the space for interaction is minimal (Noris, 2002, p. 105). Of course our culture is from this corpus of small cultures and exactly due to this reason there was a great need to use a flattering recognition to its maximum – UNESCO proclaimed Vuk Karadžić a citizen of the world, a man who through his work moved the boundaries of time and space. Being led by this idea we opened Tršić for interaction, for outside intervention, exchange of ideas, knowledge, and translation on all levels which in Tršić became a synonym for the highest forms of creativity.
– Parallel to this we worked on profiling the manifestation Vuk’s gathering, which in 2012 was added to the List of protected immaterial cultural heritage,
– All of this led to the Museum of Language and Letters being a candidate for the European Museum of 2015, ensued by the opportunity to present our achievements in the field of translation and language as the carrier of immaterial cultural heritage at the conference of the British Association for Slavonic and East European Studies in Cambridge in 2016.
By using this example of contemplating a very rich symbolic potential borne by the work of Vuk St. Karadžić, I hope I demonstrated it is possible to define our heritage, our culture, our identity as an open model and that it is possible to think about this not only through “what we are”, but also through “what we want to be” in the way Jürgen Habermas defined identities as “our own project”.
During the European year of cultural heritage I would like to continue these numerous activities in Tršić. A confirmation that these expectations are realistic lies also in the fact that last year the Educational-cultural centre was opened, which has excellent conditions for work and accommodation of participants of workshops, seminars, scientific gatherings and schools. The only hope that remains is that true professionals will receive an opportunity to express their knowledge and potential in this space.
I would say that we are greeting the European year of cultural heritage exposed to numerous challenges both due to the lack of documents regulating the field of heritage and also due to the lack of money, due to the lack of motivation of experts, however, we have faith that difficult times can also be a reason more for comprehensive changes.
Milan Kašanin, Sudbine i ljudi, Srpsko kulturno društvo „Prosvjeta“, Zagreb 2001, p.5
David Norris, In the Wake of the Balkan Myth: Questions of Identity and Modernity, Springer, 1999, p.105
Dajana Đedović, cultural worker. Graduated philosopher, magister of science in the field of cultural policy and mediation in the Balkans, author of the project of founding the Museum of Language and Letter and the House of Writers in Tršić. Advocate of the idea of open dialogue and within the same spirit the nurturing of culture of remembering.
This year the European Year of Cultural Heritage is celebrated throughout Europe. We spoke with Irinа Subotić, the President of the organisation Europa Nostra Serbia and a longtime professor and curator of the National Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Belgrade about what is European cultural heritage and how we should raise awareness of it.
It’s not just the Versailles, the Armitage, the Acropolis and the Dečani… Even a small trace of material or immaterial nature, in a remote part of Europe can be considered a part of the European cultural heritage. Provided that it is related to a significant date and it has local tradition, it contributes to a better view of European and global history and culture, it has special characteristics that enrich the European and the global civilisation, and primarily if memory was preserved and value was built around it and meticulously transferred to next generations, that is. This is not a definition of European cultural heritage — it is only what I believe should be taken into consideration so that experience and wealth of personalities, ideas, accomplishments and events throughout the history of Europe could be preserved and protected — especially in the times of novel and rapid global changes.
My previous answer already assumed that on the European level I consider important all periods that left certain characteristic marks on our history as well: no monument is identical, and each has its own peculiarities — unique in Europe and interesting for the sake of comparison with other geographic areas. This is also true of our customs, our cultural regions, and it is certainly true of the oldest, prehistoric and antique locations, but also the medieval heritage created under the influence of the Byzantine Empire, and in numerous encounters with the Western European cultures. It is a shame that a large part of the Ottoman heritage was destroyed and neglected, because today it could attest to the several centuries’ long influence this culture had on our own. Modernisation currents starting from the XVII and XVIII centuries, all the way through XIX and XX centuries, have their own specific traits because the East was connecting with the West in our region, and there were also influences coming from the North and the South. Moreover, the Yugoslavian socialist experiences in the fields of architecture and memorials are being researched in detail globally today. Thus, the Museum of Modern Art in New York will dedicate a big exhibition to this during the current year; a brilliant young architecture historian, Vladimir Kulić PhD, who graduated from the Belgrade Faculty of Architecture, is working on it.
However, due to ideological reasons and certainly out of ignorance and being driven by personal gain, we easily renounce and destroy this heritage — whenever we can. It is not only hostile conquests or bombarding to blame for this — it is also the will of the power, authorities and mundane interests. In Belgrade alone, examples of this are numerous: the demolition of one part of the military headquarters designed by the architect Nikola Dobrović in the Miloša Velikog St, and other buildings from the period of the Socialist Modernism; shopping mall Rajićeva in the middle of the most beautiful city core; planned demolition of the Student Square below which there are unexplored remains of a Roman camp; the announced gondola which will, paired with the construction of the Belgrade Waterfront, distort the historical view of the fortress, eternalised in many drawings and engravings as early as the Middle Ages…Apart from these historical, architectonic, urbanist, aesthetic and professional reasons — we must speak about other problems related to this — social, financial, ecologic… there are many more examples.
We cannot do anything without proper education, upbringing: within a family, in kindergartens and schools. And I mean long-term! However, I don’t mean this should be done through words and strict lessons, but through good examples; certainly not through reality shows on (almost) all TV stations and primitive ads. Debates on this exist for years now, but no one has the will nor strength to change our educational system. The media are not doing any good…
There are numerous artist who brilliantly related their creativity with the culture of remembrance, as if it was about recapitulating the past and a certain anxiety towards inevitable future… I could mention many artists. I’ll use this occasion to highlight only the exquisite works of Marija Dragojlović: she used old family photos, masterfully enlarged by Vladimir Popović, and she breathed in new life into them through her own interventions, preserved them from oblivion and created a fantastic link between the old and the new, especially together with her own black and white photos of Venice — the miraculous city that grew close to her heart and to which she gave her unique sentimental view through the lens.
In this field there are numerous interesting and important projects. I would like to highlight our small crew from Europa Nostra Serbia and Višnja Kisić PhD, the General Secretary gathering co-operators and organising events throughout Serbia regularly, even throughout the region, together with a diverse set of educational workshops related to the awareness of preserving heritage.
Some twenty years ago or so, during the rough times prior to the NATO bombing, an interesting project of the Council of Europe was initiated within the Group 484 that we could have applied as well, even though we were under sanctions. Within the project entitled One school – one monument we collaborated with schools in several Serbian cities, encouraged professors or teachers of history, the Serbian language, visual arts or philosophy — whoever was interested to “approximate” a close by location to their students, the location most frequently having been abandoned or neglected, with the aim of exploring its origin and attempting to preserve it. There were some very nice results because students loved this novel way of education, searching through archives and the media, speaking with elderly locals or specialists in specific fields. For some objects — an old wall, a grave, a chapel, an abandoned warehouse and the like, they provided cleaning and a small restoration, and then they preserved it, wrote about it. In this way, several once unnoticeable monumental marks — of course, on the level of the European heritage! — found their young admirers and in this way, and potentially, secured their longer survival. Unfortunately, this project did not continue, it did not become a part of the educational system in schools. Some other “values” are in power…
I will go back again to extra-curricular education, good examples that should be followed, and there are numerous such examples in Europe. What could be done is holding interesting, popular lectures about our and European most important monuments of all epochs, organising workshops for youth and children and creating a series of exhibitions that would present systems of heritage preservation throughout Europe, the most successful results in this area, how to nurture tradition in different areas of heritage, how to work with audiences, especially the young ones, how locals fight to preserve their environment on the local level, how they participate in decision making on what is most important to them… We could also “adopt” excellent examples of others, so they would become our own as well.
However, in order to do this, it is not sufficient that the civil sector and good will of individuals simply exist. It would take the cultural system in the country being liberated from the negative layers that have built up — from the political party ones, to narrower, frequently personal and lucrative interests, from retrograde, conservative criteria and lack of knowledge to more emphasised primitivism, being self-absorbed and self-sufficient. Our views should be critically directed towards the present and creatively towards the future, rather than being pathetically directed towards a simulated, shining past we are showered with, clogging the free flow of new ideas.
Irina Subotić is the Vice President of Europa Nostra, as well as its board member. For the Serbian branch of Europa Nostra, she is engaged as a chairperson. Having received her PhD in art history, she is teaching at several MA programmes of the University of Arts in Belgrade. For decades she worked as a curator of the Museum of Contemporary Art and the National Museum in Belgrade by organising numerous exhibitions of avant-garde and modern art, participating in various conferences and publishing studies and monographs. She is a member of several national and international professional and non-governmental organisations such as AICA and ICOM. Alongside history of contemporary art, her major fields of interest are museum education and engaging the civil sector in the protection and promotion of heritage.