HEROES ON PEDESTALS AND “HEROINES OF OUR TIME” AT THE WOMAN FIGHTER PARK. CONFLICTING FORMS OF COMMEMORATION AND VISIBILITY IN SKOPJE.

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Sofia Grigoriadou

Abstract

During the past decade, the urban regeneration project Skopje 2014 imposed significant changes on the city center and extensively reconstructed cultural heritage. Moreover, the project established–or reinforced–a gendered concept of national identity, according to which women were required to reproduce and mother the nation primarily. This text focuses on the negotiation between official and unofficial heritage, memory, and visibility in the past ten years in Skopje. It follows female and LGBTQIA actors as they engage in convergences and juxtapositions with official, alternative, or subversive artifacts of heritage and public spaces ascribed with non-inclusive meanings. In order to do this, the text takes the readers through public spaces in Skopje, starting from the Northern bank of Vardar and continuing to the Woman Fighter Park, which, despite its name, currently hosts sculptures honoring mostly male heroes. In continuation, it takes readers to a peculiar living room ornamented with portraits of contemporary heroines. Finally, with some additional input from authoritarian monumental painting, it recognizes the power of painting to enchant, commemorate and glorify, and finds that gallery painting can extend threads to public space. It thus returns to the park accompanied by a double portrait to examine artist-activist practices to a socialist monument. In the end, it joins the first Pride Parade in Skopje, under the gaze of the masculine sculptures in the park.

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