The First World War monuments produced in interwar Yugoslavia are today usually discussed separately, within the context of the successor state to which they belong. The symposium will attempt to present a picture of this production that is as comprehensive as possible, outlining not only the common features of these works but also their differences, which to a large degree were conditioned by very diverse local traditions of commemoration and memorial creation.

The second goal of the symposium is to consider how these monuments are inscribed with desires to strengthen a common Yugoslav identity, establish a collective imaginary, and develop a distinctive visual image of the young state. Yugoslavia faced considerable difficulties in this area, which were fostered not only by internal inter-ethnic and political tensions and a poorly thought-out state cultural policy, but also by the lack of unifying shared stories and memories. Because, before unification, the different peoples of Yugoslavia had often found themselves in opposing political camps, stories from the past could even be extremely divisive for the young state.

The creation of monuments dedicated to the achievements and to the fallen soldiers of the First World War was itself a problematic task: both victors and vanquished found themselves living in the same country, and the burial and commemoration of soldiers from both sides were happening simultaneously. Monuments normally tell us, directly and overtly, that the dead did not die in vain and the living embody the values for which they fought, but in Yugoslavia after the First World War such monuments were impossible. A sense of solidarity, whether sincere or pragmatic, constrained the victors, at least initially, from freely exulting in euphoric triumphalist narratives. And the vanquished were even more constrained, for what had happened was the very reverse of what they had been fighting for, and there was no possible way to rationalize the deaths of the many who had fallen in battle.

PROGRAMME BOOKLET: abstracts and presentations of authors


Thursday, 18 October 2018

10:30 Introductions: Katja Mahnič (Head of the Department of Art History, Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana); Urška Jurman (Program Director of the Igor Zabel Association for Culture and Theory, Ljubljana); Marko Jenko (Curator, Moderna galerija, Ljubljana)

The Production of Monuments Associated with the First World War in Different Parts of Yugoslavia

Moderated by Božidar Jezernik and Olga Manojlović Pintar

11:00 Beti Žerovc: The Development of Public Monuments on the Territory of Future Yugoslavia (lecture in English)  

11:30 Petra Svoljšak: Stones of Memory: How and Why were the Memorials Built during the First World War – The Case of the Slovenian Territory and the Isonzo Front (lecture in English)  

12:30 Marko Štepec: The Monuments to the First World War in Slovenia (lecture in Slovenian)  

13:00 Ljiljana Dobrovšak: The Places of Memory of the First World War in Croatia (lecture in Croatian)  

13:30 Andrea Baotić-Rustanbegović: The Monuments to the Victims of the First World War: Commemorative Practices in Bosnia and Herzegovina (lecture in English)  

15:00 Nenad Lajbenšperger: The Monuments Dedicated to the First World War on the Territory of Serbia without Provinces, in Vojvodina and Abroad (lecture in English)  

15:30 Danilo Šarenac: The Monuments Dedicated to the First World War on the Territory of Macedonia, Kosovo and Montenegro, and the Monuments to Foreign Soldiers in Serbia and Macedonia (lecture in English)  

16:00 Panel discussion with lecturers

17:00 Individual lecturer consultations for students and monuments researchers (applications in advance: [email protected])

Friday, 19 October 2018

The Monuments in Service of the State

Moderated by Danilo Šarenac and Beti Žerovc

10:30 Olga Manojlović Pintar: The Monuments to the Heroes and Victims of the First World War and the Remembrance Policy in Yugoslavia (lecture in English)   

11:00 Borut Klabjan: Violence in Space: Marking the Border Space in the Northern Adriatic in the First Half of the 20th Century (lecture in English)  

11:30 Dalibor Prančević: Ivan Meštrović and the First World War: An Artistic Path from Emigrant Activism to the State Commissions (lecture in English)  

12:30 Barbara Vujanović: Shaping the Nation: Interwar Monuments in the Context of the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb (lecture in English)  

13:00 Aleksandar Ignjatović: Yugoslavism through the Syntax of Classicism: The Memorials to the First World War in Belgrade and Ljubljana, 1931–1939 (lecture in English)   

13:30 Panel discussion with the lecturers

15:00 Individual lecturer consultations for students and monuments researchers (applications in advance: [email protected])


The symposium is dedicated to Špelca Čopič (1922–2014), an expert and interpreter of Slovenian and Yugoslav sculpture and public monuments in the 20th century. On this occasion, we will also remember her with a commemorative display.


Organizer: Department of Art History, Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana.
The symposium is part of the seminar Art for Collective Use.

PartnersIgor Zabel Association for Culture and Theory and Moderna galerija

  The symposium is affiliated with the international research project and exhibition On the Brink:  The Visual Arts in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia (192941) due to open in spring 2019 at the Moderna galerija (Museum of Modern Art).

Venue: Moderna galerija, Cankarjeva 15, Ljubljana

Contact[email protected]



Andrea Baotić-Rustanbegović worked as an Assistant Professor at the Department of Art History of the Faculty of Arts in Sarajevo between 2007 and 2018. Her main research focus is art in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, especially historicism and orientalism in public space. In 2018, she received her PhD from the Department of Art History of the University of Zagreb with her thesis Sculpture in Bosnia and Herzegovina under the Austro-Hungarian Rule 1878–1918.

Ljiljana Dobrovšak is a Senior Research Associate at the Institute of Social Sciences “Ivo Pilar” in Zagreb. Her areas of interest are the history of minorities, the history of Jews in Croatia, and World War I in general. She is currently focused on the transformation processes of memorializing World War I. She is also the head of two research projects in Zagreb: World Memorial Heritage of World War I and Croatian Historical Memorial Heritage of World War I – Immovable Cultural Property in Northern Croatia.

Aleksandar Ignjatović is an architectural historian and an Associate Professor at the University of Belgrade. His research interests lie in the cultural history of architecture and the visual arts. Most of his work currently centers on the relationship between architecture, visual culture, ideology and political power, especially in the Balkans during the 19th and 20th centuries, yet always within a broader European context.

Borut Klabjan is a Marie Skłodowska Curie Fellow at the European University Institute in Fiesole (Florence) and a Senior Research Fellow at the Science and Research Center in Koper. He is also an Associate Professor at the Department of History of the Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana. He studies the political, diplomatic and cultural history of the 19th and 20th-century Europe with an emphasis on border territories, such as the Northern Adriatic, Trieste, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. He is interested in the relations between Slovenia and Italy, minority questions, nationalism and national identity in a comparative and transnational perspective.  He published a monograph Czechoslovakia in the Adriatic (Koper 2007; Prague 2014). He also edited an upcoming collective volume Borderlands of Memory. The Adriatic and Central European Perspectives (Oxford 2018).

Nenad Lajbenšperger works at the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments in Belgrade, focusing on the preservation of war memorials. His area of research is thus predominantly war memorials, especially those from the first half of the 20th century. He also researches commemorative practices and the role of war victims in the political life of former Yugoslavia.

Olga Manojlović Pintar is a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Recent History of Serbia in Belgrade. She has published numerous articles and edited two collective volumes: History and Memory, Studies of the Historical Consciousness (Belgrade 2005) and Tito: Visions and Interpretations (Belgrade 2011). She is the author of The Archaeology of Memory: Monuments and Identities in Serbia 1918–1989 (Belgrade 2014).

Dalibor Prančević is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Art History of the University of Split. His interests are art and visual culture in the 20th and the 21st centuries. He authored the book Ivan Meštrović i kultura modernizma: ekspresionizam i art deco (Split 2017). He currently leads the research project Manifestations of Modern Sculpture in Croatia: Sculpture on the Crossroads between Socio-political Pragmatism, Economic Possibilities and Aesthetical Contemplation. He was awarded a Fulbright postdoctoral grant for the project Ivan Meštrović and the Anglophone Cultures.

Petra Svoljšak is a Research Counsellor at the Milko Kos Historical Institute, which is part of the Research Centre of the Slovene Academy of Sciences and Arts in Ljubljana. She is also an Associate Professor of Cultural History at the University of Nova Gorica. Her research interests are the period of World War I and its vicissitudes on Slovenian soil, i. e., refugees, the role of women, the relations between the military and the civilian spheres, war demography, etc. Petra Svoljšak is also interested in the Slovene memorial landscape and the transformation processes of memorializing World War I.

Danilo Šarenac is a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Contemporary History in Belgrade. His research focus is the social and cultural impacts of World War I in Southeastern and Central Europe, the history of violence, technology and the culture of memory. He is currently involved in the international project Roma Interbellum, which aims to reconstruct the interwar status of the Roma in Europe. 

Marko Štepec is a historian, Museum Counsellor and the head of the Curatorial Department at the National Museum of Contemporary History in Ljubljana, where he is also in charge of the collections. His main focus is the period of World War I. He curated several exhibitions, wrote screenplays for documentary films, articles and publications on World War I, the 20th century and its cultural history. He is currently researching the everyday life of soldiers and civilians during wartime and the memorial landscape.

Barbara Vujanović is a Senior Curator of the Ivan Meštrović Museums – Meštrović Atelier in Zagreb. She is currently preparing her PhD thesis on classical elements in Ivan Meštrović’s work. Her other research interests include modern sculpture, interwar monuments and cultural diplomacy. She wrote the book Meštrovićev znak u Zagrebu(Zagreb 2017) and co-authored the book Ivan Meštrović and the Czechs: Examples of the Croatian-Czech Cultural and Political Reciprocity (Zagreb 2018).

Beti Žerovc is an Associate Professor at the Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana. Her areas of research are visual art and the art system since the mid-19th century, with a focus on their role in society. In 2018, Beti Žerovc coedited the publication The Lives of Monuments: World War II and Public Monuments in Slovenia. Her latest book When Attitudes Become the Norm: The Contemporary Curator and Institutional Art was published in 2015 and reprinted in 2018.