Counter-Monument: Artivism Against Official Memory Practices

Milena Dragićević Šešić

Abstract


This paper will explore ways of dissent regarding policies of memorialization of Yugoslavia, its common past and recent wars. It will show the difficulties for the development of official memory policies that are not resulting in coherent practices of remembrance in Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, and in Bosnia and Herzegovina. These questions are not debated in public and an explicit memory policy does not exist anywhere in the Balkans due to changing ideologies during transition and numerous old and new taboos around the negative past. There is no social consensus on any of the crucial issues of remembrance (while temporary social consensus during the war years was based only on fear and hatred toward the other).
The key theme of this paper is linked to counter-monuments and anti-monuments as bottom-up expressions of the feelings of dissent toward official (implicit and explicit) memory and monument policies. Social oppositional counter movements have often inspired different attempts by artists and civil society (that often go together) to react and offer their visions and options of memory and commemorative politics, particularly regarding taboos and the negative past.. Exploring the work of Jochen Gerz in Europe, its impact in the region as well as regional counter-monument projects and initiatives, this paper will try to respond to the following question: have alternative socio-cultural movements produced a platform for genuine counter-monument practices?


Keywords


counter-monument, national memory policy, culture of memory, memory practices, Jochen Gerz, Balkans.

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