Jordan Šišovski

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Brutalism in architecture, landscape architecture and sculpture seem to be having a global comeback. At least in terms of fascination and urge for its study and rediscovery, the 2019 Museum of Modern Art’s exhibition “Toward a Concrete Utopia: Architecture in Yugoslavia, 1948–1980” played a big role in capturing the imagination of the global public. Even though there is a renewed interest in brutalist architecture, this paper aims at rethinking the renewed interest in the monumental brutalism, particularly the architectural monuments commissioned and built in the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. In trying to understand our fascination with the Yugoslav monumental memorial sites, and with their current condition, we will employ one idea of the Japanese culture that was appropriated by the global community. The idea of Wabi-Sabi in Japanese Zen-inspired art is the aesthetic appreciation of the beauty of the imperfect, impermanent, incomplete and transient object. The aim of this paper is to show that our fascination with these ruined monuments of “concrete utopia” stems from the fact that we are living in a particular age of ruin ‒ economic ruin, climate ruin, political ruin – and thus we are finding satisfaction, as well as self-reflection in these Yugoslav brutalist monuments. The contrast between the almost sci-fi utopian ideals with the decayed reality shows us the disharmony of our own world and situation.


disharmony, brutalism, decay, ephemerality, phenomenology, Heidegger, Wabi-Sabi

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