Monday, November 15, 2010


Spomenik. Photographs by Jan Kempenaers. Roma Publications, 2010. 68 pp., colour illustrations throughout, 13x10". Images from Roma Publications.

I've only recently come across the work of photographer Jan Kempenaers, and I'm really impressed and intrigued by his great work capturing the intersection of urban places and landscape, from a rather conceptual angle.

In the book 'Spomenik' he's photographed some former east-block sculptural monuments to the Second World War, and in capturing their beauty opened up the larger issue of their social and historical impact.

"During the 1960s and 70s, thousands of monuments commemorating the Second World War - called 'Spomeniks' - were built throughout the former Yugoslavia; striking monumental sculptures, with an angular geometry echoing the shapes of flowers, crystals, and macro-views of viruses or DNA. In the 1980s the Spomeniks still attracted millions of visitors from the Eastern bloc; today they are largely neglected and unknown, their symbolism lost and unwanted.

Antwerp-based photographer Jan Kempenaers travelled the Balkans photographing these eerie objects, presented in this book as a powerful typological series.

The beauty and mystery of the isolated, crumbling Spomeniks informs Kempenaer's enquiry into memory, found beauty, and whether former monuments can function as pure sculpture."

Quote from here.

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