BPM 2020/1: State Funeral, Funeral of One State – Imre Szabó

May 4, 7pm
Kvaka 22
Ruzvelltova 39, Beograd

“With the death of Josip Broz “Tito”, (born in Kumrovec in Austro-Hungary, now known as Croatia, on May 7th, 1892), in Ljubljana (Yugoslavia, today’s Slovenia) on May 4th, 1980, one country also died. A state that was as unnatural as many others, and which, by glorifying old values, was an extension of the old Kingdom of Yugoslavia, but which, as often happens, had a limited lifespan.
Yugoslavia represented the centre of cultures and religions, a meeting place, a crossroads of three different cultural and social entities. It was part of the two largest forces from the end of the last millennium, but eventually fell victim to the two most powerful forces of the 20th century. It was a battlefield, over and over again. Yugoslavia: the dream of the intellectual elite and the dream of a key figure of the 20th century who could not survive it.
Tito was a statesman and a strong defender of his ideals. He was relentless towards those he believed to be traitors. The carpet, under which he hid all his problems, had a name and it was called Goli Otok (Naked Island). He was one of the founding members of the Third Way. On his initiative and on the initiative of the Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, in 1961 a Non-Aligned Movement was born in Belgrade, together with Egypt, Ghana and Indonesia. He never accepted subordination to Stalin and his satellite states, but he also did not hesitate to attack the American fleet when necessary.
The state funeral of the autocrat and Marshall was the largest until the funeral of Pope John Paul II in 2005. It was attended by four kings, thirty-one state presidents, six princes, twenty-two prime ministers and forty-seven foreign ministers from one hundred and twenty-eight different countries of the one hundred and fifty-four that made up the UN. What many believed would happen happened: At the time of the final sealing of his mausoleum, they left Yugoslavia inside… exactly 40+1 years ago.”

Imre Szabó, a photographer born in 1956 in Yugoslavia, is one of the most renowned photojournalists of his generation in the entire former Yugoslavia. It could be said that he was self-taught, although he never missed a single hour of photography at the Faculty of Dramatic Arts, Belgrade, but always only as an observer. He started working as a photo reporter in Ilustrovana Politika at the age of 23, and a year later when aged 24, Tito’s death occurred. Ilustrovana Politika did not accredit him as a reporter for the state funeral but he set out to cover Tito’s funeral on his own initiative. Without access to the best locations and considering the equipment available to him at the time, he did a great job for which he was later recognised, and a part of which is exhibited here and published in various publications. In 1989, which was another key year for Europe with the fall of the Berlin Wall, he started working for the daily Politika newspaper and later as a photography editor for Nin magazin from 1995, when he also began his independent work. He also covered the war in the Balkans, mostly for the German magazine Stern. Among other things, he has had photos published in newspapers such as Focus, Spiegel, Le Monde, L’express, Time, Newsweek, Herald Tribune and Le Nouvelle Observateur.
He has participated in over 200 exhibitions, among which it is worth mentioning: Light and Shadows on the Balkans, Belgrade (2009), Bucharest (2010), Istanbul (2010) and Ankara (2010); participation in the exhibition Lessons from ’91, which included his works from the wars of the disintegration of Yugoslavia in the 1990s (2016 and 2017) in Zagreb, Belgrade, Berlin and Maribor; and recently a solo exhibition Devedesete (Nineties), where his war themed works were exhibited in Užice, Belgrade, Mokrin, Kragujevac, Niš, Paraćin, Valjevo and Maribor (Slovenia) as part of The Festival of Photography Maribor (2018 and 2019).
Curated by David Pujadó i Puigdomènech
The exhibition will run until 24th May, 2021

Please note that due to the Covid-19 situation nobody can enter the Gallery without wearing a mask as required by the Rep of Serbia regulations.