You are on page 1of 8

30thJune2013 The Spomenik at Kolain

"Art is the concrete representation of our most subtle feelings."

Agnes Martin


Or is it "concrete is the most subtle representation of our most artistic feelings"?

Welcome to our first stop. This is a structure at the west end of Trg Boraca (Soldiers' Square) in the remote skiing
town of Kolain in Northern Montenegro. The town, I might add, is far enough off the tourist track that my initial
backpackladen walk through the town center was greeted with some bemusement, as if Neil Armstrong himself in
full regalia had landed here instead of the Sea of Tranquility.


As an entry point into the Biogradska Gora National Park, Kolain and its surrounding area are stunning. The bus ride
from Podgorica is beautiful, fdangerous[ res/2000690th rteenk lled nmontenegrobus
crash33 njuredpol ce/] , and the area (like pretty much everywhere here...) is replete with equal parts military history
and Yugos in varying states of repair.

There is so much to see and do here in fact that when I told my local hosts Slobo and Jubinka Baik over a few
glasses of the local poison that I was only here to photograph the spomenik they stared at me with the same blank
stare that one might give a Neil Armstrong explaining his mission to collect rocks at the Northway Mall.

As for this monument, I fear I didn't do as much asking questions of real people as I should have. The amount of
disinformation on the internet surrounding the Kempanaers book make the legitimate information difficult to find.
Sources are linked. Here's my best shot:

This building, appearing to be less a spomenikthan it is some sort of lowrent civic center, was designed by
Slovenian architect MarkoMu [http://www.sazu.s /osazu/clan /markomus c.html] (Mootzeech, not Mewzik) and
opened n1976[ n shedmodern sat ons/] . Google Maps refers to the building as
theKola nTownCenter[
q=kolas n&hl=en& e=UTF8&ll=42.824145,19.519079&spn=0.002188,0.005284&sll=37.0625,95.677068&sspn=38.638819,86.572266
&t=h&hnear=Kola%C5%A1 n,+Montenegro&z=18] and also as the Skuptina Optine Kolain (Mun c palAssemblyofKola n
[http://www.kolas] ), though the address listed for city offices is not this building. There is also a reference to a
Centar za Kulturu(Cultural Center) which may or may not be related. The Mui website refers to his work as
"Memorial and Cultural Center, Kolain, Montenegro."


The town hall (as are the other things we're looking for) is designed in the Brutalist school of architecture. While the
term brings a certain connotation in English, it comes from the Frenchbeton brut;rough concrete. Here isanother
morelocalexample[http://modernthr starch tecturechr step scopalchurch] for which I bear a
certain nostalgia.


Chalk it up to the beginner's luck, but I was delighted a) to find it so easily, and b) to find willing staffers inside who
allowed (or more accurately "were completely indifferent to") me taking pictures inside.



As you can see, Mui's structure has probably seen better days. There is some uphill attempt to keep graffiti off the
building, and it appears that the impracticality of windowwashing has trumped design. A small and unsatisfying
urban climbing wall has been attached to the south side of the building. Inside are some offices, including those of
the Socijalistika Narodna Partija (Socialist People's Party of Montenegro) and something which seems to translate as
the "Department to Determine and Control the Charge of the Public Walk."


As we will see again when we get to Kadinjaa it's not uncommon for there to be an older (immediately postWWII)
monument near or integrated with the more modern one. In this case, 1947's Monument to the Fallen (the plaque
translates to something like Monument to the Soldiers and Victims of Fascist Imperialism Fallen in the District of
Kolasin) is produced in the Socialist Realist styleconsistent with Tito's alliance with Stalin at the time. It was after
the political break with the Soviets in 1948 that a modern and unique Yugoslavian style developed. It is at this
monument and not Mui's building whereceremon alfunct ons[http://www.d ndex.php/v jest /v jest zcrne
gore/4093ukola nupoloen v jenc pal mborc ma] are held.


While still in use, the town center at Kolain feels like an albatross of concrete in a town that doesn't need
concrete. Kolain itself is notably picturesque, and not in a way that is conducive to brutalist architecture. The
building appears to be difficult to maintain and more importantly, nobody seems particularly interested in
maintaining it. In spite of its unique appearance it reminds me in many ways of the concrete malls built around the
same time in Anchorage: once vibrant, now decrepit. It's a pity, really.

Next time. Jasenova.

I think...

Posted 30th June 2013 by JohnDePalat s

Labels: 2013, Brutal stArch tecture, Spomen k

2 View comments

Jess caBayl August28,2013at11:11PM