Architektur der Erinnerung – Die Denkmäler des Bogdan Bogdanović

Architecture of Remembrance is a documentary on the life’s work of the former mayor of Belgrade, architect, philosopher, author and scholar Bogdan Bogdanović. It combines his extraordinary biography with a specific focus on his work in former Yugoslavia and Belgrade in particular. The unique memorials of Bogdan Bogdanović are documented for the first time in this video production that takes a scientific approach to its fascinating subject.

Bogdan Bogdanović was born in 1922 into an upper-class family of artists. Even as a pupil he was already moving in surrealistic circles and, as a young student of architecture, went on to join up with communists and partisans during World War II. In 1951, shortly after receiving his diploma, Bogdanović won a competition to build a memorial to the Jewish victims of fascism. Although he radically ignored any socialist architectural tenets in this as well as all his later designs he managed to forge a career for himself as an architect and scholar.

What started in 1951 with that memorial at the Jewish cemetery in Belgrade would develop into the main focus of Bogdanović’s life’s work. From then until 1988 he created 20 monuments, spread over the entire territory of former Yugoslavia (with the exception of Slovenia), which expressed the surrealist’s particular approach to topics like war, revolution, death and extermination. Bogdanović denies his monuments any kind of political message – something which was and still is held against him by many. But it is precisely this approach that makes his work a unique part of the history of Eastern European architecture after 1945.

This video project directed by Reinhard Seiß features information on Bogdan Bogdanović’s life and a representative selection of his unique memorials, which are hereby documented for the first time. In addition to presenting the forms and contents of the memorials, the film highlights the history of the various locations (extermination camps, places of execution, the meeting places of resistance fighters, etc.). The documentary also makes viewers painfully aware – only a few years after the Yugoslav Wars – of how flippantly military solutions to conflict situations are again being debated in Europe.