Photo Essay – Swiss photographer Valentin Jeck captured the Brutalist architecture of former Yugoslavia for Toward a Concrete Utopia, MoMA’s major exhibition exploring the exceptional work built during the the 45 years of the country’s existence.
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Toward a Concrete Utopia: Architecture in Yugoslavia, 1948–1980 features more than 400 drawings, models, photographs, and film reels culled from an array of municipal archives, family-held collections, and museums across the region. The exhibition will be open until January 13, 2019.
Jeck’s was commissioned by MoMA to photograph impressive examples of architecture designed to shape a national identity during the socialist country’s formative years. The blown up photos are displayed around the Robert Menschel Galleries on the third floor.
“On my trips i came past loads of interesting buildings.” Says the photographer to Archipanic. “Special were the monuments in former Yugoslavia because nowhere in the western world you would find something like it. It’s a flowing mixture between architecture and sculpture.”
“The buildings were an expression of the modern comunity and demonstrated a boom. Today some of them are in a bad condition and seem a bit surreal. It’s time, to open peoples eyes for the architectural quality. It was so visionary and has wrongly fallen into oblivion.”
The exhibition focuses on the architecture built from 1948 to 1980 — from International Style skyscrapers to Brutalist “social condensers” — as a manifestation of the radical pluralism, hybridity, and idealism that characterized the Yugoslav state itself.
Exploring themes of large-scale urbanization, technological experimentation and its application in everyday life, consumerism, monuments and memorialization, and the global reach of Yugoslav architecture, Toward a Concrete Utopia features work by important architects such as Bogdan Bogdanović, Juraj Neidhardt, Svetlana Kana Radević, Edvard Ravnikar, Vjenceslav Richter, and Milica Šterić.
From the sculptural interior of the White Mosque in rural Bosnia, to the post-earthquake reconstruction of the city of Skopje based on Kenzo Tange’s Metabolist design, to the new town of New Belgrade with its expressive large-scale housing blocks and civic buildings, the exhibition examines the unique range of forms and modes of production in Yugoslav architecture and its distinct yet multifaceted character.
All photos by Valentin Jeck – Courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art, New York.