There are plenty of shiny, modern buildings in Belgrade, but none of them are head-turners. The facades that are steeped in history, battered by weather, tired but stoic are the ones that stand out. I didn’t realize that I was completely focused on them until I started sorting through the photos from our recent visit.
Earlier this year, in a Creative Mornings Belgrade talk, writer Paul Currion talked about the concept of “ruin porn” in light of the revitalization taking place in one of Belgrade’s newest art hubs Savamala. He titled his presentation “Cut and Paste City” alluding to the mix of ugly and beautiful that are layered, like patina in a place like Belgrade. There is definitely something seductive about remixing the past, particularly if it’s ugly. For better or for worse, the bad can be glossed over and lend credibility to the present.
Nobelist Ivo Andrić summed up Belgrade like so: “This grand city seems to have always been like this: torn and split, as if it never exists but is perpetually being created, built upon and recovered. On one side it waxes and grows, on the other it wanes and deteriorates. Ever in motion and rustle, never calm and never knowing tranquility or quiet.”