Monument to the international community

In recognition of the effective and unstinting assistance provided during the war, on Friday a group of artists in Sarajevo raised their "Monument to the international community": a metre high golden can of beef. Says Dunja Blažević of the Centre for Contemporary Art, "The message is clear. The Ikar canned beef is remembered by the people of Sarajevo with disgust. Cats and dogs did not want to eat it and people had to. Everybody agreed that we should do the project in this way. It's witty, ironic and artistic."

The person who kindly sent the news along wrote, "With the inscription, 'from the grateful citizens of Sarajevo,' the spam monument is dripping with sarcasm (and a sarcasm that those who are familiar with the region will be sure to recognize!). Besides the obvious chuckle factor, what really struck me about this new monument is that it uses the medium of the monument precisely to subvert its usual message. I think we're likely all familiar with James Young's concept of the counter-memorial, but something like the spam monument seems to be a whole new level of 'counter'."


Yakima_Gulag said...


You must have missed reading my blog the 7th of April 2007! :)

Yakima_Gulag said...

Oh just to clarify, even the most objectionable of out of date canned beef is still not Spam! Spam is a pork product, produced from shoulder and ham, hence 'Spam'. Incidentally the pictures of Saddam's 'spider hole' showed a large stock of actual Spam.

Eric Gordy said...

It's true, Katja had this story on 7 April!
Is it really shoulder? I thought "spiced ham."

Anonymous said...

Spiced ham it is. Just ask Hormel:

Yakima_Gulag said...

Well Hormel is LYING about the spiced part!What spices, my tongue detects no spice but SALT! I'd always heard it was 'shoulder and ham' but I saw that in some old encyclopedia or other. I was wrong!

Eric Gordy said...

You know, that's a good point. I wouldn't recommend spam to any of my spice-loving friends. Spice-loving enemies, maybe, but they never ask me for culinary advice.

Frank Sellin said...

Well, there is a hot and spicy version among the current varieties. :D

But the "Classic" version:

"...is made of just a few simple ingredients. Ham, pork, sugar, salt, water, a little potato starch, and a mere hint of sodium nitrite to help SPAM® keep its color. Sounds delicious, and it is."


Frankly I'm with Yakima on this one. Not only do they not clearly answer the question about spiced ham ("some may speculate..."), but just upstream from that answer in the FAQ is the reference to Jay Hormel's solution to packaging pork shoulder circa 1941. :-)

And if the only spice they can cite is sodium nitrite, as distinct from sodium chloride... ;-)

Seesaw said...

Hi, your discussion is of course academic one. As someone who had to EAT this during the war in Sarajevo, all I can wish you is that you NEVER EVER have to try something so disgussting as Ikar!!! We were hungry but could not eat that junk (this is not the right word, but I can not find better one). Let me end by saying -great initiative!

Anonymous said...

I spotted this a couple of weeks ago, when "Grey Falcon" had a spittle-flecked post about it. How dare those filthy Muslims be sarcastic.

I know there are Bosnian Serbs who aren't suffering from a bad case of cultural cringe. But "Grey Falcon" is not one of them.

I digress. It is pretty interesting, isn't it. I wonder what the equivalents would be in, say, Belgrade or Prishtina?

Doug M.

Anonymous said...

When the war started, we moved from Sarajevo to Belgrade where we lived for 3 years. Citizens of Sarajevo were not the only ones exposed to this "food group", they were in the UN packages we received every month. I am not using the term "food group" lightly; my mom managed to treat it as such as it was the only "meat" at the time. We had it made into a pate, put into Spaghetti Bolognese, shapped into meat balls, hamburgers,...anything you can think of that requires meat, we had it made with Ikar. SPAM was Fillet Mignon compared to this stuff. I don't want to see either one of them ever again.