The documentary exhibition about monuments related to World War II and erected in Slovenia at the time of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was developed at the seminar “Art for Collective Use” at the Department of Art History of the University of Ljubljana, in cooperation with the Moderna galerija. The title of the seminar should be indicative – it should guide students towards the art placed in public space, intended for the broader public and common use, and created in complex co-authorship.
The topic of post-war monuments was actually selected at the students' initiative. They expressed a wish to become acquainted with this extremely diverse field of production, as well as understand its reception, which is nowadays highly polarised. However, while such monuments have been met with scepticism and outrage by a part of the national public for some years, this has been counteracted by a noticeable trend of greater international enthusiasm about these structures.
Their first step upon entering the world of this singular art form was a general reflection on the essence and intended purpose of the monuments, about the connectedness of formal solutions and the effects of the monuments, about the dramaturgy of monument spaces and trails, and about commemorations as their integral components. Then the students focused on the context, since this generation of students, born at the time of the disintegration of Yugoslavia, has trouble understanding why it was that our former country produced such a plethora of fascinating modernist monuments.
The students next undertook a detailed analysis of specific monuments to become more acquainted with the realities of their being in the world. The selected parts of the research papers at the exhibition show that the lives of monuments are neither monotonous nor simple. A monument is often produced in a very complex and lengthy process that may last for years, or even decades. This can be followed, in rather rapid succession, by periods of acceptance or even enthusiasm, and a reserved, distanced attitude towards the monument that can even be accompanied by rejection and vandalism. In an unusual contrast to its often massive and invincible appearance, a monument’s exposure to the public space always leaves it accessible, extremely vulnerable and strongly dependent on its community.