What Spomenik and the like forgets, Pupovac insists, is not only the scale of what happened here – “Yugoslavia was the fourth highest country in Europe in terms of civilian casualties” during the Second World War, and was also, along with Greece, the only country with a resistance movement – the multi-ethnic, Communist-dominated Partisans – that was large and strong enough to liberate the country almost without help from the Allies. The federal Yugoslavia that came out of this broke with Stalin and the USSR in 1948, and instituted a “self-management socialism” of extreme complexity and decentralisation. This is what disappears in the Spomenik photos – as she puts it, “our lived historical experience of a revolution becomes only a cultural artefact”. Sekulic argues that “a better way to engage with these monuments would be to use them as a tool do re-connect to the near past in which as a society we did not see space only as a commodity”.
Which is a bit of a problem when the current government in the region is less inclined to think kindly of the politics of that era which inspired the monuments in the first place and would very possibly be happy to see them crumble.