VILLA DALMACIJA / TITO’S VILLA

My photographic work often focuses on the so-called neuralgic urban zones; it memorializes long ago destroyed and forgotten spaces and their melancholy beauty that points to their possibly different futures. These spaces date mostly from the 20th century, especially from the period of the Socialist Yugoslavia, which is why I use analogue technology thus conveying the authentic atmosphere of the time, i.e. Modernism.I try to stimulate different development imaginations, memories of long forgotten promises and ideas about continuity, rationality, anthropocentricity of urban space that never lose touch with work, culture and leisure.

Serial of analogue photographs, VILLA DALMACIJA, presents a complex known also as the Tito’s Vila located by the sea in the protected area of the Marjan Forest Park, Split. VILLA DALMACIJA was built in 1914 as the first guesthouse in Split, however today it does not meet contemporary hotel requirements. After WWII the central building with accompanying houses and park of approx. 57,000 m2 were turned into a residence for Tito, the Yugoslav President. The ground floor and the interior of the first floor of the central building are mostly preserved and as such bear witness to the way of life during socialism. Besides, the interior appears very modest considering the fact that it was designed for a “Communist dictator” which is today’s popular right-wing definition of Josip Broz Tito. The entire area has since been closed to the public despite the fact that all Communist walls in Europe collapsed more than a quarter century ago and that the complex belongs to the State and therefore to the citizens.

My intention is to strengthen the perception of Villa Dalmacija as the space of unrealized cultural and identity potential, which seems possible through public cultural service, e.g. its programmatic activity as artistic residence open to the public and organized by a wide network of cultural-artistic institutions.

These artistic imaginations, as well as all other anticipated public services in this space, regularly meet with resistance from real estate developers who are exerting pressure on the local authorities in order to transform the protected area of Marjan Forest Park into a construction zone. This scenario would expose Villa Dalmacija to further neglect and possibility of enlargement of its accommodation capacity, which would certainly transform it into an unrecognizable facility.