Photo by: Sandro Lendler

Project by the Serb National Council “Silence that Tore Down the Monument” won the European Heritage Award Europe Nostra in the category “Citizens engagement & Awareness-raising”

By: L. Parežanin

European network for protection and promotion of cultural heritage the Europe Nostra, which closely cooperates with the European Commission on the same themes, bestowed the project “Silence that Tore Down the Monument” by the Serb National Council with the European Heritage Award Europe Nostra in the category “Citizens engagement & Awareness-raising”. This is an important recognition for the project dedicated to the antifascist monumental heritage – to the Vojin Bakić’s Monument to the Victory of the People of Slavonia, erected in 1968 and demolished after it was blasted for many days by members of the Croatian Army in 1992.

Members of the project team were Milorad Pupovac, author of the concept, Sandro Đukić, artist, Davorka Perić, curator and Lana Lovrenčić, author of discursive program, and its direct objective was to restore and “regenerate” Bakić’s renowned monument using digital technology (Augmented Reality, AR) and new methods for heritage reactivation.

In the explanation for award, the jury stated that this represents “a pioneer approach” which “opens a positive dialogue and creates a space for discussion on dissonant, and often forgotten heritage with the related community.” “While being specific to its own circumstances, it serves as an important model for other, similar contexts”, they remarked.

With its focus on modernist and antifascist heritage that has clear political connotations, it stood apart among regular heritage projects centered on traditional cultural goods, but also compared to other winners of the Europe Nostra Award for this year. Pupovac personally stressed this point in his inaugural speech, and recalled the fact that Bakić’s monument was erected “to honor one of the strongest resistance movements in Europe, liberation movements against occupying fascist and Nazis forces, and local quislings as Ustashas were here.” Pupovac emphasized that monuments like Bakić’s are “exquisite artworks relevant all around the world.”

Sandro Đukić, Davorka Perić and Milorad Pupovac (photo by: Sandro Lendler)

Davorka Perić agreed with his words, and in her comments on the Europe Nostra Award to the “Kamenska” said that “precisely with this award the objective was achieved as it was originally envisioned. Namely, to speak in the European context and through one monument about the fate of all monuments destroyed in Croatia during and after the war in 1990s”.

Đukić said that “Silence that Tore Down the Monument” has been chosen among seven of 209 projects applied in total, which additionally confirms the importance of this award. For him, it’s particularly appropriate that it won in the category citizens engagement and awareness-raising, since the key aspect of the project was “to reawake or to bring back to memory values which Bakić’s monument represented and affirmed.” As future steps for the project, he announced an agreement with museums of modern and contemporary art in Zagreb and Belgrade to install the QR-codes in front of their buildings by which visitors would be able to see virtual projection of the monument in real space. In addition, elements to be installed on the original location are in the making, and a publication about genesis and destruction of the project, and about the project itself, will be published. Đukić said that the Europe Nostra Award ceremony will be also organized in Kamenska, and guests from Europe would attend it. He concluded that the importance of this award have to be understood in the context of wider social processes in Croatia and entire Europe, in which trends of negative relation to the past and historical revisionism are prominent.

“In my opinion, this award and this work carry artistic, cultural and political message”, emphasized Pupovac. “This is a type of what we might call serious political statement, as opposed to other political messages to which we have to pay attention from time to time. Serious because it is an emancipatory and superb artwork that celebrates freedom and equality, and all that is based on antifascist values, which are integrated in the foundations of modern postwar Europe. But, regrettably, they are eroding in Croatia and in many countries members of the European Union. Therefore, this award also carries a political message – in defence of those values and artists who make such a grand artworks by using those values, as Bakić has done before”, accentuated Pupovac.