Yugoslavian Bernharda Xilko‘s illustrations are stark nightmares packed with active nudes and foreboding giants exploring unfolding landscapes and black-eyed lovers. Xilko’s sexually charged figures climb scaffolding, push open folding screens, and confront over-sized replicas in barren mountain ranges where platforms unstably rest. There always seems to be a sense of teamwork, but it is teamwork that is either ignorant of the task’s ultimate result or work that feels intentionally ominous. When clothing is adorned it often feels as if it is from the decades of black and white television which provides a conceptual link for the lack of color, and the garbs warn feel blue-collar and commonplace, making these figure’s lives and mission feel almost ant-like in its diligence and insignificance. The work shares the vibe that the Twilight Zone often evokes but in a more grotesque and explicit manner.
Bernharda is also a co-founder of NOVO DOBA, an annual Belgrade comix and underground culture festival that shares his aesthetic of dark worlds. You can also see more of his work here.
Socialist-era monuments dot the countryside of the lands that once made up Yugoslavia, many of them World War II and concentration camp memorials. The majority of the the monuments were commissioned by then president Josip Broz Tito during the 1960’s and 70’s. Photographer Jan Kempenaers toured the countries that once made up Yugoslavia to document the monuments in this series of photographs. With the fall of socialism and the disintegration of Yugoslavia, the monuments were largely abandoned. The monuments’ neglect is apparent and contrasts severely against their futuristic aesthetic.
The grouping of monuments have not only been abandoned by visitors but also their meaning and symbolism. They ask serious questions regarding the nature of monuments in the sculptural tradition. What is a memorial when it no longer memorializes anything?