History of Art and Architecture

Heidi Cook Colloquium


Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - 12:00pm to 1:00pm

Crossing, Creating, and Destroying Borders: Images of Folk Culture in Svijet, 1928-1933

Heidi A. Cook, PhD Candidate, History of Art and Architecture, University of Pittsburgh

Depictions of peasants and their folk dress were a ubiquitous part of the visual culture of Central and Eastern Europe throughout the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth century linked with burgeoning nationalisms. The boldly illustrated covers of Svijet (World), a weekly magazine produced in Zagreb in the late 1920s and early 1930s, exemplify this increased prominence of peasant imagery. This periodical, whose news and fashion articles were aimed at the urban middle class, interspersed covers with strikingly modern images of architecture, travel, fashion, and sports with covers portraying peasants and folk culture. These folkloric images reveal how deeply engrossed Croats were in developing a national identity drawing from folk culture that they could integrate into a new modern lifestyle. Yet little has been written about what exactly this these images and folk culture meant for image makers and viewers, how these images related to their specific national contexts or actual peasant life, or how their meaning shifted over time. Rather, than being homogeneous or simplistic, nationalist ideology and its imagery shifted over the course of the interwar years. By examining a series of Svijet covers from 1928 to 1933 in light of Croat political nationalism, the endeavors of the Ethnographic Museum in Zagreb, and other social conditions, this analysis will begin the work of revealing how this imagery operated within the specific Croat interwar period. Indeed it is precisely the interaction of folk culture with borders that created meaning in these images. By crossing, creating, and destroying borders depictions of folk culture reveal a variety of motivations and politics.