Sonja Leboš: Bogdan Bogdanović – Architecture as Applied Anthropology

Jasenovac, Croatia, photo: Damil Kalogjera
Jasenovac, Croatia, photo: Damil Kalogjera

Public lecture, Monday, 5 October 2015, at 6 pm
Faculty of Arts (lecture room 343), Aškerčeva 2, Ljubljana


On 5 October 2015, the series of public lectures in the framework of the Art for Collective Use Seminar, co-organised by our association, will continue at the Department of Art History. The Seminar focuses on works of art that are created for collective use, experiencing or rituals and are usually exhibited in public space.

This year’s seminar is entitled Monument, Performance, Ritual, Body and is centred on two recognisable artistic phenomena in former Yugoslavia and its successor states: performance art and monumental memorials to WWII. The seminar will consider the period from the end of the 19th century to this day; the main temporal focus will be on the 1960s and 1970s, when both practices were at their peak.


In her lecture, Sonja Leboš will present Bogdanović's oeuvre in its overall complexity: Bogdanović as a writer, an architect, an educator, a sculptor, and a politician. However, the emphasis will be placed on his work on public monuments dedicated to the National Liberation Struggle, which can be found in almost all the republics of former Yugoslavia.

What form should the commemoration of those who fell in WWII as the victims of fascism take? That was the question posed when Bogdanović was assigned to work on Jasenovac, at the time, according to Bogdanović himself, probably the last killing camp in Europe that had not been commemorated yet.* Bogdanović decided on a trans-civilisational, organic architectural language.

The title of the lecture refers to just one of the possible paths in reading his work, whereby one should try to keep in mind his interpretation of Adolf Loos encapsulated in the formulation that ‘architecture can always be retold in words’, and concentrate on the intensity of communication that Bogdanović built between the two seemingly very different disciplines – architecture and anthropology – an intensity construed on the basis of the capacity of both to work with the power of the descriptive.

In Bogdanović's work, it is important to perceive the power of the performative self-reflection, which grew into a form of auto-mythologization, which will also be considered in the lecture, in critical comparison to some other approaches (V. Bakić, E. Ravnikar), while reflecting on the notions of collectivity and performativity of large monuments.
* Source: Ukleti neimar (Doomed Architect), by Bogdan Bogdanović, Mediterran Publishing, Novi Sad, p. 158.

Sonja Leboš (Zagreb) is a cultural anthropologist, curator, and writer from Zagreb, Croatia. She was also trained as an architect, set designer and educationist in art. In 2002, she established the Association for Interdisciplinary and Intercultural Research (AIIR). Since then, she has been constructing complex platforms for artistic and scientific research and practice that include also the fields of film, urbanology and urbanism, urban and visual anthropology. She co-curated Bogdan Bogdanović – The Doomed Architect and edited Space of Identity, Space of Interaction, Space of Alteration. Since 2013 Sonja Leboš has been regularly co-working with grey) (area – space for contemporary and media art in Korčula, living her life between a city and an island.

Organized by: Igor Zabel Association and Department of Art History, Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana