The rain continued to drench the world around us and our road trips out of Zagreb were put on hold in favor of snuggling up in the homey apartment. Our travels across the continents had disfigured our diet with cheap restaurants and had left us craving home cooked meals, especially vegetables. Although the food of the Balkans is delicious we really needed a broccoli fix. It’s funny the things you miss from home.
After a day of eating vegetables and watching movies it was decided that we should venture into central Zagreb and see the sights before our time here ran out. Of course the first thing to be marked on our map was the Museum of Contemporary Art.
Wrapped in large LED screens flashing through the long windows striped across the building s exterior. The gallery had four floors containing its permanent collection of Modern through to Contemporary art
The collection housed some old favorites and some amazing installations. We were impressed with the range of good video art and found some of the work to indulge in a little too much art school. A special mention goes to the amazing portrait series by Oleg Kulik entitles ‘My Family Portrait series.’
The highlight of our gallery visit was the temporary exhibition The Forest Unbowed and Radovan Ivšić. Based on the poet Ivsic’s art collection and the uniting theme of the forest, the curation was eclectic in the styles, mediums and eras it represented. Juxtaposing organic minerals and insect remnants among the works of art. Our favorite was a video work traveling through a dark forest with amazing light effects by Carlos Irijalba, Inertia, 2012.
The daylight ended early as we rushed through the old town of Zargreb, with its now familiar cobblestone alleys. Moving out from the the centre of the city past clock towers and bronze heroes we wandered in the rain getting lost amongst the narrow winding streets, eventually stumbling upon the Croatian Museum of Naïve Art. A tiny old house filled with unique paintings on glass from local outsider artists.
The time for our dinner date was approaching so we had to cut our city tour short. Making room for the main attraction at the top of our list of must see Zagreb. Started out as an art project the museum is now one of the major attractions of Zagreb, tours internationally and is a major inspiration for us. This museum is the museum of broken relationships.
With donations from all over the world the museum showcases remnants from broken relationships of all kinds. Those objects which carry the weight of experience, too precious to throw away, too painful to keep, are displayed with a small piece of writing about the relationship. They are varied, insightful, painful and incredibly human.
Filled with love and loss it was time to fill our bellies. Soaking ourselves once more in the downpour we met up with Branka for our dinner date. After traditional fare and a walk through slick shiny streets we rested well for our next spomenik adventure.
Heading deep into the forest of the Petrova Gora mountains, our research led us astray and we found ourselves lost amongst the logging roads and fog. With the help of clues from our patchy internet reception we retraced our steps and found a sign almost obscured by mossy piles of logs.
The fog deepened in time with our approach and we found ourselves in a deserted parking lot. Crumbling structures which looked to be the concret skeletons of bars and restaurants created a desolate welcome, pointing towards a large set of stairs leading to a sea of white.
Making our way up the stairs a large looming shadow began to emerge from the fog. The silhouette of an incredible monolith becoming more solid with every step. Broken, empty and impressive despite the neglect and vandalism. Petrova Gora was a monument to the uprising of the people of Kordun and Banija designed by Vojin Bakić. These people were mainly Serbs with a small number of Croats who resisted the fascist movement in World War two and lost there lives in Petrova Gora fighting a huge force of Ustase Militia, the Croatian army controlled by the Nazi party. The monument was built as a museum and housed an educational collection frequented by school groups after world war two. After the fall of Yugoslavia the funding was cut and the monument was abandoned and vandalized, probably as it showed a piece of history which Croatia would rather forget.
The entrance was barred and so we explored the surrounds until we found a basement entrance hidden amoungst the overgrown forest. Dark, dank and dripping in wet pools. We both almost had a heart attack when a pigeon flew by us. Reminding us of the perfect environment for a zombie attack, luckily we were yet to see any signs of infection.
We found our way through the rubble into the main structure and spent some time exploring. Soaring above us with over five stories of winding staircase, levels stripped to their bare concrete and metal, the building was all amazing curves, lines and dizzying heights.