Prior to the Departure to the Front

Photo: Miloš Cvetković

The photo was shot in Odžaci, in Vojvodina, close to the border with Croatia, in the autumn of 1991. It depicts soldiers in a tavern before their departure for the Vukovar front. A naked woman from Ukraine or Moldova performs a striptease in front of them.

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Photo by Dejan Tasić, EPA

The bombing of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia by NATO began on March 24 and lasted until June 10, 1999 (78 days). The NATO intervention was preceded by armed conflicts in Kosovo between the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), the Yugoslav Army, and the Serbian police, as well as by failed negotiations sponsored by the international community.

A few days before the beginning of the attack, Slobodan Milošević, President of the FRY, declined to sign the Rambouillet Agreement, which called for the withdrawal of the Yugoslav Army and the Serbian police and the deployment of NATO forces in Kosovo.

NATO asserted that the purpose of the military intervention was to stop the ongoing ethnic cleansing and violations of human rights of Kosovo Albanians by Serbian forces. At the same time, Serbia claimed that it was an internal matter, and that the intervention violated its sovereignty. During the bombing, civilian targets were also hit throughout Serbia, with the majority of civilian casualties occurring in the Radio Television of Serbia (RTS) building, a passenger train in Grdelica Gorge, the market in Niš, and a bus on the Niš-Priština route.

During the three months of bombing, approximately 750,000 Albanians fled Kosovo. According to the Belgrade-based Fund for Humanitarian Law, 756 individuals were killed in NATO attacks, including 452 civilians and 304 military personnel. During the campaign, Serbian forces murdered 6,872 Albanian civilians, while the KLA killed 328 Serbian civilians and 136 members of other ethnic groups. In the fighting between Serbian forces and the KLA, 1,204 KLA fighters and 559 Yugoslav Army soldiers and Serbian policemen were killed. The conflict ended with the signing of the Kumanovo Agreement and the adoption of Resolution 1244 that authorized the international military and civilian presence in Kosovo.

The Yugoslav Army and Serbian police withdrew from Kosovo, together with approximately 100,000 Serbian refugees. UNMIK (currently KFOR) forces were deployed across Kosovo. Kosovo proclaimed independence in 2008. The Republic of Serbia considers Kosovo and Metohija to be its autonomous province. As of June 2023, negotiations to normalize relations between Serbia and Kosovo have not yielded significant results.

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Wars and sanctions have bolstered organized crime, often in collaboration with official institutions. Under these circumstances, criminal clans strengthened, with the Voždovac clan becoming the most notorious in Belgrade during the 1990s. In addition, numerous criminals joined paramilitary units responsible for multiple war atrocities. The most famous among them in Serbia were Đorđe Božović Giška and Željko Ražnatović Arkan; in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mladen Naletilić Tuta, commander of the Retaliatory Battalion of the Croatian Defense Council, as well as HVO officer in Central Bosnia Vinko Žuljević Klica; and on the Bosniak side, Ramiz Delalić Ćelo, Mušan Topalović Caco and Jusuf Prazina Juka.

In the 1990s, criminals became part of public life, serving as role models for young men and promoting a particular way of life, attire, and vernacular. Openly carrying weapons was part of this “style”. The movies The Wounds (Rane) by Srđan Dragojević and See You in the Obituary (Vidimo se u čitulji) by Janko Baljak illustrate vividly the atmosphere in Serbia during those years.

The basic model of the Beretta 92 pistol, designed in Italy in 1975, and its numerous variants and copies, became part of numerous national armies and police forces. Its popularity among Latin American cartels and Balkan criminals remains high.


Silicone is a polymer extensively used in medicine, construction, electronics, and other industrial areas, but it has gained popularity as a breast implant fabric. The idea of its aesthetic use can be traced back to the 1960s; however, silicone implants became widely available and popular in the early 1990s after extensive clinical testing and clearance in the United States and Canada. This enabled widespread use in aesthetic medicine worldwide, resulting in the popularization of so-called “silicone breasts” and the formation of new aesthetic standards. Silicone implants became a status symbol in the Balkans in the 1990s and an unavoidable element of the image of many media and music icons.


MDMA (methylenedioxymethamphetamine), also known as ecstasy, is a synthetic drug first produced in labs in Germany in 1912 as a potential remedy for bleeding. However, the substance was never used for medicinal purposes; it was first used as a supplement in psychotherapy sessions in the 1970s and 1980s. However, it rose to prominence in the second half of the 1990s, particularly among young people at rave parties. Ecstasy increases the release of serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine in the brain, resulting in feelings of pleasure, enhanced energy, and decreased anxiety. Long-term ecstasy use, however, can result in addiction, cognitive impairment, memory loss, sadness and anxiety, and death due to overdose.

Ceca and Arkan

Svetlana Veličković, aka Ceca (1973, Žitorađa) began her career as a singer in 1988. She recorded the anti-war song with Rade Šerbedžija “I don’t want to fight against my friend”, released by Diskoton in Sarajevo in March 1992. Ceca met Željko Ražnatović (Brežice, Slovenia, 1952) whilst performing at his paramilitary training camp in Erdut, Croatia. In 1995, Ceca and Arkan’s wedding was a first-class media event broadcasted live on television.

Arkan was one of the chiefs of the criminal underground. He became widely known as the leader of Red Star fans at the beginning of the breakup of Yugoslavia. During the wars in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia, he commanded the paramilitary unit “The Serb Volunteer Guard”, which committed numerous war crimes. Arkan was murdered at the Intercontinental Hotel in Belgrade on January 15, 2000. Later, Svetlana Ražnatović was detained for her connections to the Zemun clan, which in 2003 assassinated Prime Minister Zoran Djindjić. She was found guilty of criminal activities and embezzlement.

This video was recorded in 1996. Milovan Ilić Minimax, a known humorist turned propagandist for nationalist politics during the wars, hosted Ceca and Arkan on his popular talk program “Minimaxovision” during which Arkan sang Elvis’s song “Wooden Heart”.

Bazookas and Bullet Cases

Source: “The Museum of Objects”, Kiosk (the project by Ana Adamović, James May i Milica Pekić); from the collection of the Museum of Yugoslavia

Donor: Srđan Tunić
1984 / Beograd /

Donors’ place of residence during the 1990s: Beograd 

Object title: Bazooka tube & bullet cases

Place that the object relates to: Beograd

Year that the object relates to: 1999

Question: What does this object represent for you? 
Answer: Both objects remind me of one aspect of the nineties, which is difficult, and I’ve been partially spared of it because I was a child. The bazooka tube was found in Resnik in the fields immediately after the bombing, and the bullet cases we collected in the area and exchanged between us like stickers. Both objects are a sign of the (in)visibility of weapons in everyday life.

Question: Why did you donate the object? 
Answer: I believe that all objects of material culture represent a period, especially one that was hard and that everyone wants to forget.

The Sound of the Nineties

Turbo-folk, dance, rap, hip-hop, and electronic music dominated the 1990s music scene in the former Yugoslavia. Turbo-folk is a musical genre that emerged in the 1980s by combining Serbian ethnic and disco music with Arabic, Turkish, Greek, and Roma folk music elements. Some musicians and singers, such as Baja Mali Knindža, exploited this genre to support Serbian war policies. At the same time, turbo-folk star Svetlana Ceca Ražnatović took the unofficial moniker of “Serbian mother.”

Dance was a globally popular musical style, and in the 1990s, it found its representatives in the post-Yugoslav scene in bands such as Đogani fantastiko, Funky G, Baki B3, Tap 011, Moby, E.T., and Colonia. Hip-hop and rap groups appeared as well such Gru, Monteniggers, Tram 11, and, later, Edo Maajka and Elemental. Some of these bands and performers are still active today.

Since the 1980s, electronic music and rave party culture have developed worldwide. Radio B92, Studio B, NS+, and Treći kanal were the primary media boosters of this music in Serbia. In addition, rave parties were staged in the discotheques “Buha”, “Soulfood”, “Akademija”, and “Industria”. In Zagreb, enthusiasts organized unauthorized rave parties like “Under City Rave”, in the tunnel under Grič in 1993, and at the former Ustasha leader Ante Pavelić’s villa “Rebar” in 1994. These parties were seen as social and political alternatives to nationalism and isolation.

Inserts from the television report about “Under City Rave” in Zagreb are shown on the screen; sources: DJ Pepsi Mag (HRT) and MTV, October 30, 1993.

Punk and rock bands in Yugoslavia were frequently socially engaged during the 1990s, when the alternative scene was also developing under the influence of guitar rock, grunge, heavy metal, and hardcore. While some previously famous singers performed patriotic and nationalist songs (Psihomodo pop, Jura Stublić, Riblja Čorba, etc.), many artists actively participated in anti-war movements, such as the supergroup Rimtutituki (made up of members of Električni orgazam, Partibrejkersi, and EKV). In 1993, the project “Over the Walls of Nationalism and War” resulted in a compilation of anti-war punk songs and joint tours by bands across the former Yugoslavia. The new circumstances sparked widespread social and political criticism that can be heard on the albums “Stupidity is Indestructible” (1992) and “The Price of Pride” (1997) by Pula-based KUD Idijoti. They were also the first Croatian musicians to perform in Serbia in 2000, whereas Rambo Amadeus was the first Serbian and Montenegrin musician to appear in Croatia the same year.


On the headphones, we provide a necessarily limited selection of some of the most well-known musical works of the 1990s.

Turbofolk (headphone 1)

Dragana Mirković – Pitaju me u mom kraju (1992); Ceca – Beograd (1997); Nino – Donesi divlje mirise (1994); Sinan Sakić – Zoko moja Zoko (1995); Baja Mali Knindža – Ne volim te Alija (1993); Vesna Zmijanac – Malo po malo (1995); Džej – Nedjelja (1991); Dara Bubamara – Košava sa Dunava (1993)

Dance (headphone 2)

Đogani – Idemo na Mars (1996); Funky G – Samo u snu (1994); Tap 011 – Zbog tebe (Gaće) (1996); E.T. – Tek je 12 sati (1994); Moby Dick – Kralj kokaina (1994); Ivan Gavrilović – 200 na sat (1994)

Hip hop and rap (headphone 3)

Gru – Biću tu (1996); Monteniggers – So i tekila (1997); Voodoo Popeye – Karantin (1997); Sunshine – Žaklina traži sponzora (1996), 187 – Heroina (1998); Elemental – Pasivna Agresija (1997)

Electro (headphone 4)

Prodigy – No good (Start the Dance) (1994); Faithless – Insomnia (1995); The KLF – Justified and Ancient (1991); Juno Reactor – God is God (1997); Astral Projection – Mahadeva (1995); Snap! – Rhythm is a dancer (1992)

Punk and rock (headphone 5)

Rimtutituki – Slušaj ’vamo (1992); Let 3 – Vjeran pas; Atheist rap – Wartburg limuzina (1994); KUD Idijoti – Kad sunce opet zađe (1997); Ritam nereda – Put beznađa (1993); Goblini – Ima nas (1996); Hladno pivo – Ne volim te (1997); Sikter – Gudra (1995)