Symposium as part of the Motel Trogir project, organized by Loose Associations
Beton kino, Dom Mladih/ Split Youth Centre, 17-20 October, 2019
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With the decline of modernism as an international movement and the proclamation of a series of post-movements from the 1960’s and 1970’s, the notion of modernity as an actual (living) force that does not merge the past and the present, but the present and the future, has itself become a historical fact.
While modernist expression promoted, for aesthetic or purely political reasons, distancing and differentiation processes in the old cities in the era of its post-war domination (according to Thomas Will), thereby creating something comparable to Brecht’s alienation effect (Verfremdungseffekt) in the theatre of city memory, it was largely opposed to the idea of the monument, by saying: “here I am, to serve the reformed life of a new society of survivors as a sincere expression of my time, and also as an instrument of catharsis.”
With the onset of the crisis of the modernist movement, its outright enemy—nostalgia—began to prevail; first it replaced it by so called “post-modernism” (making the modernist movement a history), then by questioning its fate, that is, its future existence. It was the first stage in recognizing the values and inventions of yesterday’s rival as a subjugated historical fact, which could from then on be treated as cultural heritage.
This opened up the possibility for the valorisation of the great ambient gestures of the modernists. The process was comparable to the recognition of industrial heritage, considering that, from Thatcher’s Britain to Tuđman’s Croatia, transformations of the national economy and the establishment of post-communist national identities led both modernism and industry to become “the other” and anachronistic almost overnight.
(Marko Špikić at the public discussion HOW DO WE PROTECT MODERNIST ARCHITECTURE?, organised by the MOTEL TROGIR project and the Croatian Society of Art Historians, 15 February 2017)
Significant progress has been made in the last seven years of activity of the Motel Trogir project and in the course of the even longer efforts of other protagonists – in fact, since the topic of the protection of modernist architectural and other cultural heritage (from the second half of the 20th century) somehow reached the local and wider European general public. In the first place, this period has seen the beginnings of a more or less systematic exploration and critical validation of the heritage. In the local and regional context, these inevitably drifted towards scientific evaluation, as well as towards a “battle for (the interpretation of) Yugoslav heritage“. The period also saw the gradual affirmation of the concept and practice of “heritage activism”, connected with the protection of the modernist built environment and the reclaiming of public spaces by the citizens. The two phenomena were often (in)directly linked. The activity of researchers and activists in Croatia has also become part of a bigger, global picture of the necessity of protecting modernist heritage. The two levels are constantly intertwining, sometimes causing friction due to the different political positions articulated in the process of historicizing this heritage. It should be noted that the recent trend of historicizing the different dimensions of the spatial and physical development of socialist Yugoslavia has its ideological and political function, which also involves the policies and practices of the conservation of modernist heritage. As political activist and theorist Milan Rakita pointed out, the profession-specific conservational concepts and methodologies cannot be understood without reference to the general patterns of the social validation of the historic past. These, in turn, are part of even more extensive processes of shaping what is known as the politics of memory and depend on them. In other words, these conservational concepts and methodologies are part of the entire social system’s relationship to its own historical past.
Regardless of the ongoing debates in the field, many researchers, architects and activists believe that the protection of the finest works of modernist heritage is an urgent matter which calls for the deployment of all available methods. One of them, which the activists often fall back on, is the formal protection of landmarks. It involves efforts to endow them with the official status of cultural heritage, which acts as a kind of guarantee of institutional care, so often lacking in the (preservation) of such environments.
The three-day symposium / public gathering which will take place in Split and the surrounding area from 17 to 20 October 2019 is organised by the Loose Associations, platform for contemporary artistic practices, as part of the Collective Domain of Cultural Memory (CDCM) collaborative project. The symposium is organised with the intent of fostering the critical reflection and examination of the last decade of dealing with the topic of protection of modernist architecture from the second half of the 20th century. We intend to consider the processes, protagonists, methods and challenges in this field (of the historicization of modernity and preservation of modernist heritage).
In light of the up-to-date activities and practice of the Motel Trogir project, the symposium will cover the following topics:
– The Motel Trogir project 2013-2019 – how do we protect the architecture of modernism?, critical reflection
– The Mediterranean Modernism Network, focus on Northern Africa, the example of Morocco
– The relationship of the historicization of modernity and the activist practices of protecting modernist architecture to contemporary artistic practices, frictions and crossovers
Participants: Doplgenger (Isidora Ilić, Boško Prostran), Ruben Arevshatyan, Ekaterina Shapiro Obermair, Imad Dahmani, Lahbib El Moumni, Meslil El Mehdi, Višnja Kukoč, Jelena Borota, Sanja Matijević Barčot, Lidija Butković Mićin, Jovanka Popova, Anastasija Pandilovska, Saša Šimpraga, Jasminka Babić, Neli Ružić, Duška Boban, Lana Stojičević, Mariana Bucat, Platforma 9,81, Udruga Kačić, Božo Benić, Morana Rozić, Aleksandar Bede, Sabina Damiani, Marjoca de Greef and many more.
Concept: Nataša Bodrožić for Motel Trogir/ CDCM.
Organization: Loose Associations/ Motel Trogir team (Bodrožić, Butković Mićin, Šimpraga)
Photos: Marin Renić // Coordination, translations: Ena Prokić
/The CDCM programme, a segment organised by the the Loose Associations along with the symposium in the Split, will include additional events in 2019 and 2020, such as art residencies, exhibitions and expert-guided public tours./
The symposium is part of Collective Domain of Cultural Memory, an international collaborative project funded under the European Union programme Creative Europe for the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018.
The project is co-funded by the City Of Split, the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Croatia and the Kultura Nova Foundation..
The programme is realised in partnership with the Youth Centre / Multimedia Cultural Centre in Split.