THE VILLAGE OF Rummu, in northern Estonia, is home to a geographical oddity: a lake with several offshore buildings that are partially or completely submerged, skirted by pale white hills that taper down to a gentle, beach-like incline. The lake is in fact a former limestone and marble quarry, now shut down and flooded. The site teems with plant and animal life, particularly in the summer, making it a striking blend of the idyllic and creepy – particularly given that one of the sunken buildings is a former prison that once housed the quarry’s involuntary labor source.
SPOMENIK MONUMENT DATABASE, out this week from FUEL Publishing, chronicles the massive, brutalist war memorials spread across the former Yugoslavia. While “spomenik” simply means “memorial” in Serbo-Croatian, the word has come to be associated with the particular form these monuments took from the 1960s to the 1980s: wildly asymmetrical abstract constructions of concrete, stone and metal, often placed incongruously in remote, pastoral settings.
THE COMMUNIST GOVERNMENTS in both the Baltics and Yugoslavia went on a spree of monument-building in the decades after WWII, which, when the ruling paradigms collapsed in the early 1990s, became fraught symbols of a tangled past in the power vacuum of the present. While some of the monuments in these regions were destroyed and others were moved or built around, most have been simply left to age themselves into obsolescence. When the material is concrete, however, the aging-out game can be a long one.
HELSINKI, WITH ITS months-long stretches containing more darkness than light, is a natural fit for neon lighting. For businesses operating in the dark winter months, neon serves as a beacon that invites customers in from the cold. In contrast to other cities, where neon often takes on splashier forms, much of Helsinki’s neon is set in orderly sans-serifs, though here and there bursts of cursive and other stylized types still break through.
RÜGEN, GERMANY’S LARGEST island, lies where the eastern Ostsee opens up into the Baltic. Closer to both Sweden and Denmark than to Hamburg, the island has remained remarkably untouched over centuries of changing rule…