Representative portrait of the childhood in the Socialist Yugoslavia
Socialist Yugoslavia existed a bit less than 50 years. During its short life it was known as the country of the “Socialism with the human face”, a “special case” in the world divided by the Cold War. Both the country and its image in the rest of the world were strongly influenced by the personality of its undisputed leader and president for life – Josip Broz Tito. After the 1991, that marked the beginning of the wars in the Former Yugoslavia, newly established national elites of the successor states started to impose a collective amnesia on the period now divided nations spent living together and immersed in the process of history rewriting.
By focusing on the representative image of the specially created socialist childhood, this art-based research project is proposing one possible reading of the Yugoslav socialist state, its dominant models and legacy, but also questions the possibility of the collective memory on the country that no longer exists. It starts from the belief that a representative image of the childhood, childhood construction, could be the exact place to look at when analyzing dominant social models and ideological frames of any society.
Starting point for the research are photo-albums President Tito was receiving from elementary schools and children organizations starting from 1945 until his death in 1980, today part of the Museum’s of Yugoslav History based in Belgrade collection. These albums could be perceived as a case study of how Yugoslavs were representing themselves to their leader, but more importantly they witness of the dominant models in the great project of creating new men, new nation, new state, paradigmatic shifts in the ideology of Yugoslav socialism and changes in country’s politics. Representative portrait of the childhood revealed through these photographs points to one more important fact – that from the beginning of the 1960s real country’s politics and proclaimed ideas of what that country was supposed to be in the future started to diverge, which eventually led to the country’s very end. In that sense, archive materials used in this art-based research are treated both as visual documents of the past, but also of the betrayed possible future of the country that no longer exists.
Keywords: Socialist Yugoslavia, memory, childhood, photography ideology.
Ana Adamovic is dealing with issues of identity and memory, both personal and collective by working on the long-term photography and video projects. Since 1999 her work was exhibited on numerous solo and group exhibitions in Serbia and abroad. She graduated at the department for the World Literature at the Belgrade University and studied photography at the Art Institute of Boston. She is founder of Belgrade based Kiosk platform for Contemporary Art (www.kioskngo.org)