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Monument to the Fallen Soldiers of Ljesanska Nahija

Barutana, Montenegro
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The monument is dedicated to the warriors fallen in the liberation wars, starting from the First Balkan war to the Second world war. Grouping different motives - a vertical dominant, a radial sequence of elements, separate groups - she managed to create a unique and moved memorial center. The monument occupies a large space. After climbing the stairs the architects brings you on the stage at the very moment you reach the end and you are in the open amphitheater. Stone chairs call for cultural events in the future to be organized, and the stone walls overlaid by the entire monument respect the traditions that have arisen in rural areas. Kana was in between the combination of tradition and modernity to approach and reconcile the two poles.

On this Kana said "One of the most difficult design tasks is the monument because it belongs to the domain of non programmatic architecture. The monument is a fixation of certain act for future generations. But this fixation doesn't mean oblivion. That's why the monument must be introduced into the cycle of life. I am not for a monument that is experienced in one moment of intense emotions, in pain, in suffering, but rather for a continued experience, for the liberation of the sanctity and dignity, for the feeling that life triumphs over death."

Architecture is no Adventure

Some ten kilometres from Podgorica in the direction of Cetinje, a road sign marks the turn-off for Barutana. There is no sign for the monument itself. We find ourselves at a fork in the gravel road where an old shepherd sits among his stock and gives us a serene look. We turn left. After a few minutes, we realise that this is not the way to the monument. We return to the fork past the shepherd, who shows neither surprise nor wonder, and choose the other alternative. On an unusually grey May day, the open umbrellas of a dispersed group of visitors look like blossoms which the wind unexpectedly swirled over the monument in three different levels. Three wars: the Balkan war and the two World Wars. Names engraved into stones, different names, many of the same surnames. Conical structures of varying heights in the middle of a circle. Freedom fighters of Ljesanska nahija region. Green all round. Stone and concrete in a woven structure undulate in the greenery of the surrounding hills. Architect Svetlana Kana Radevic believed that a monument must open up the space to reverence and dignity, not to paroxysm and suffering, because this is the only way for it to symbolise the power of life over death. For her, architecture was not an adventure in the space and material but an ethical act. Her aesthetic did not regard tradition as a direct transmission of form but rather of spirit done by means of action, communication, and the testimony of the values of a certain time, a certain society. The monument is not maintained or protected, the original whiteness has acquired lichen, chips, fissures, and spurts of weed. And yet it is the fabric of cultural memory without sharp edges and with a majestic vertical of open arms or a blossom towards the sky. The amphitheatre is waiting for listeners and a snail is leaving a slime trail on a wall vault. In 1980, Kana Radevic wore a white skirt and drew a sketch of the monument in the sand on the seashore with a tree branch. The sea washed over the sketch; the monument, erected the same year, is still standing. Will it stand?

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bostjan, June 25th, 2021
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