turbo

A: ALEKSANDRA DOMANOVIC’s video Turbo Sculpture (2010–2013) makes a comparison between turbo folk—a popular style of music in the Balkans—and the public sculpture that began to appear in the region in the aftermath of crisis. Turbo works remain neutral in the turmoil of political disputes: unlike war memorials, these monuments don’t refer to the history of their specific sites or to a past leader or occurrence that affected the area; they are based on modern popular culture so widespread that it knows no genius loci. Instead of commemorating war heroes, turbo sculptures eternalize “real” Hollywood stars and fictional heroes of the Western world by casting them in bronze. Bruce Lee, Johnny Depp, Rocky Balboa, and other film characters or public personae—a blur of fantasy and cultural history—provide new points of identification for communities tired of celebrating the national heroes that have been fed to them from one regime change to the next, their reputations mired by the atrocities of war. Turbo-works are real.

B: BRIAN HANLON. Also, “the king.” The artist behind more than 400 sculptures, Hanlon has honored sports and cultural icons, and New Jersey’s first responders, with his work. He has earned his title as the Official Sculptor of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Atlanta benefits from an impressive collection of Hanlon’s public statues: Bobby Cox and Hank Aaron at SunTrust Park; Bobby Dodd at Georgia Tech; Dominique Wilkins outside Philips Arena; and soon, Evander “The Real Deal” Holyfield, downtown (see below).

C: THE CONFEDERACY. Some statues memorializing it are coming down as we attempt to distance ourselves from the atrocities of slavery. Statues of General Robert E. Lee have been removed in Austin, Baltimore, Dallas, and New Orleans; New Orleans also removed a statue of Confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard; Orlando moved a Confederate soldier who was known as “Johnny Reb” … the list goes on. These commemorative “Silent Sentinel” soldiers were mass-produced by such firms as the Monumental Bronze Co. of Bridgeport, CT. The prolific McNeel Marble Co. of Cobb County, GA, is said to have produced 140 Confederate monuments placed nationally over the course of roughly 70 years, beginning in 1891.

D: JOHNNY DEPP. In January 2010, at the opening of the third Küstendorf International Film and Music Festival, a life-sized statue of Depp was unveiled in the western Serbian mountain settlement Drvengrad. The actor was represented leaning on a street light with his arms crossed; Depp, who was in attendance, appears pleased in photo documents of the event.

E: EVANDER HOLYFIELD. Atlanta’s turbo-Holyfield will be sited outside the Flatiron Building downtown. Holyfield began boxing in a Boys & Girls Club in the city’s Grant Park area; he won the gold medal in the 1984 Olympics, and he is the only four-time world champion, as well as the only boxer to reign simultaneously as champion in cruiser- and heavyweight divisions. Holyfield was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame Class of 2017—his first year of eligibility. His likeness, immortalized in bronze by Brian Hanlon, will stand a muscular nine feet tall, depicted in a “Humble Warrior” pose: arms down but with a face ready to destroy. Holyfield looms in popular culture for his role in “The Bite Fight,” wherein boxer Mike Tyson bit his opponent’s ear during the third round.

F: SAMANTHA FOX. Plans to honor Samantha Fox were put in motion by the city of Čačak, Serbia, after the singer and pinup model agreed to perform at an awards ceremony. During the performance, however, she stormed off the stage as the crowd began to chant, “Show us your tits!” (or something to that effect). Plans for the statue were nixed. The dedication ceremony in a town square honored an empty pedestal that read “The Rumor” in a different language on each side.

G: ALEXANDER THE GREAT. After an earthquake leveled Skopje in 1963, the Macedonian capital remained quiet for four decades. Macedonia reemerged with an aggressive national branding initiative that in part involved reigniting old conflicts with its neighbors. Macedonia and Greece both claim Alexander the Great as their countryman, and tensions rose when a 72-foot sculpture of the binational hero was erected in the heart of Skopje. (To placate the Greeks, he is officially referred to as the “warrior on a horse.”) It was one piece of a building bonanza intended to re-make Skopje as a modern-day Paris, one that involved the construction of airports, arenas, and infrastructure named after Alexander—a deliberate provocation, maybe, but Greece will probably take heart in the widespread criticism that the result is about as Parisian as the Las Vegas imitation.

H: HARVEY WEINSTEIN. On March 1, 2018, days before the 90th Academy Awards, a golden statue arrived on at the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and La Brea Avenue in Los Angeles. Street artists Plastic Jesus and Joshua “Ginger” Monroe had depicted the disgraced film producer sitting on a casting couch and wearing an open robe, an Oscar covering his groin.

I: IVAN FIJOLI. Sculptor living and working in Zagreb, Croatia. Fijoli created the first public monument to Bruce Lee in the world, which was installed in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina on November 26, 2005—one day before a similar statue was unveiled in Hong Kong. The Mostar sculpture is supposed to be life-sized, but—at 1.68 meters tall—stands 4 centimeters shorter than Bruce Lee’s actual height.

J: MONUMENT TO JOE LOUIS. Also, “The Fist.” In 1986, Sports Illustrated magazine commissioned the Mexican-American artist Robert Graham to epitomize the strength of Louis’ punch in the ring and on the streets, in his constant fight against Jim Crow for racial justice. The boxer’s arm and clenched hand now hang 24 feet long and 24 feet high, suspended mid-punch, in Detroit’s Hart Plaza.

K: KITSCH. Excessively garish art or design, sometimes ironically deployed.

L: DAVID LAMMY. Lammy is a UK Labour MP and former London mayoral candidate. Speaking at a local university he once made a campaign promise that, if elected mayor of London, he would fill the streets with statues of celebrities including Adele, David Bowie, David Beckham, and the grime artist Wiley.

M: MILICA TOMIC. Serbian artist; not a fan of turbo. Tomić’s work centers on unearthing and bringing to public debate issues related to political and economic violence, trauma, and social amnesia. She has said: “This turning to Rocky or Tarzan is unhealthy and dangerous. We need to find a way of representing our grief, our responsibility, and our despair. Until we do that, Serbia cannot come to terms with the present and the future.”

N: ’NIQUE. Also, “The Human Highlight Film.” Immortalized outside Atlanta’s Philips Arena: Dominique Wilkins, forever in
the midst of one of his signature windmill dunks. ’Nique is the Atlanta Hawks’ all-time leading scorer, a nine-time NBA All-Star, seven-time All-NBA, and two-time NBA Slam Dunk champion. His bronze stands a whopping 12 feet tall and is mounted on a four-foot-tall granite base for a combined weight of ~ 20,000 pounds.

O: ORSON WELLES. In 1961, while shooting gloomy central European exteriors in Zagreb for his adaptation of Kafka’s The Trial, Welles met the woman who would become his longtime companion: Oja Kodar, a Croatian actress and sculptor. When businessman and former Split mayor Željko Kerum built the Joker Centre shopping Mecca, he commissioned Kodar for a bolero-hatted bronze statue of Welles to bring some culture to the commerce.

P: MILETA PRODANOVIC. Vice Rector, University of Arts Belgrade; professor of painting at the Faculty of Fine Arts; artist working between visual art and literature. Fan of turbo. “These Hollywood monuments are a subversive response [to the governments of that time], which they are mocking. People realize that many of our soldiers in the wars of the 1990s were criminals who stole, robbed, and killed. So people are searching for alternative role models, and this is a healthy rejection of nationalism.”

Q: QUEEN. Overlooking Lake Geneva on Quai de la Rouvenaz, Montreux, Switzerland: a statue of Freddie Mercury, as depicted by Czech sculptor Irena Sedlecká, with a microphone in one hand and a fist pumped triumphantly in the air.

R: RAMBO AMADEUS. Portmanteau, from John Rambo and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Montenegro-born Serbian musician of former Yugoslavia who introduced the term turbo folk before it spread throughout the Balkans during the wars of the 1990s. “Folk is the people,” he said, and “Turbo is a system of injecting fuel under pressure into the motor cylinder with internal combustion. Turbo folk is a burning of a nation. Turbo folk is not music. Turbo folk is the beloved of the masses. Awakening of the lowest human desires. I did not invent Turbo folk, I gave it its name.”

S: TUPAC SHAKUR. Immortalized in several statues in Europe, and one in Stone Mountain, GA. In 2005, on the ninth anniversary of his death, the rapper’s mother opened the Tupac Amaru Shakur Center for the Arts. The centerpiece was a life-size statue of Shakur, wearing a suit and carrying a Bible, which stands atop a granite block in the middle of a spritzing fountain shaped like a cross. The inscription quoted the artist: “I guarantee that I will spark the brain that will change the world.” The arts center shuttered in 2014, and the statue was removed a year later.

T: TURBO FOLK. Also, “serbwave.” A style of pop music combining Serbian folk traditions with Jamaican dancehall and Puerto Rican reggaeton. Popular in Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Macedonia.

U: TURBO URBANISM. Similar to turbo folk and turbo sculpture, turbo-urbanism addresses the significance of urban development in the evolution of urban life in crisis zones.

V: VANDALISM. Mostar introduced its life-sized Bruce Lee in 2005 as a symbol of solidarity in the ethnically divided city, but only a few hours after the opening ceremony the statue was vandalized and its nunchucks stolen. After 111 days and many acts of vandalism, the statue was removed permanently.

W: ANDY WARHOL. Immortalized by three sculptures in the world. One is, logically, installed at the site of his Manhattan “Factory”; another is sited in the small city of Medzilaborce, Slovakia—his parents’ home town. On February 22, 2017—the 30th anniversary of the artist’s death—a third monument was unveiled in Belgrade, a city to which Warhol has no discernible connection.

X: XENOPHOBIA. An irrational fear and distrust of that which is perceived to be foreign or strange. Always destructive, particularly in periods of crisis and its aftermath, when populations migrate.

Y: YUGOSLAVIA. Country, 1918–1992. Fan of turbo. In the postwar cultural fallout, the term turbo was applied liberally, for example to Turbo TV, Turbo Politics, and Turbo Architecture. Turbo rejects the nationalist and extreme ethnic views of wartime Yugoslavia and refuses to accept leaders and fighters of that era as heroes.

Z: ŽITIŠTE. Serbian city. In 2007 Žitište erected a statue of Sylvester Stallone’s fictional Rocky Balboa character; sculpted by Croatian artist Boris Staparac, it is a near-identical replica of a statue outside the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Bojan Marceta, the organizer of the Rocky monument, explained: “Nobody from the wars of the 1990s or from the former Yugoslavia deserves a monument, because all our leaders did was to prevent us from progressing …. My generation can’t find role models so we have to look elsewhere. Hollywood can provide an answer.” Lonely Planet has listed the Rocky Balboa statue in Žitište among its “top ten most bizarre monuments on Earth.”