FOTODOK presents the project Alexander (2013-2018) by Michał Siarek. The installation is open for visitors to view on the 16th of January 2020 from 17:00 on, and the artist will give a talk at 18:00-18:30 at the building of FOTODOK .
Alexander is based on the relationship between politics and history, centered around the construction of a national myth in the (Former Yugoslav) Republic of Macedonia – a state with no name, fixated on a dispute about origins so distant that they may have never existed at all.
The installation is a follow up to the group exhibition Joint Memory: Photographic Fragments (14.11.19 – 23.02.20) which reflects on the nature of collective memory of historical events as constructed by media and politics.
In 2009, the Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski announced an architectural scheme titled Skopje 2014. The equestrian figure was the crown jewel of the nation- branding policy, likening modern day Macedonia to the ancient archetype of Alexander’s Kingdom. Construction came to a full-stop a few years later, when leaked wiretapped conversations revealed what everyone had suspected: the leading party, in order to stay in power at any cost, committed massive embezzlement, cronyism, nepotism, meddled with the elections, and propped up its rule using mass surveillance of 20000 citizens. Both project Skopje 2014 and Alexander have dominated the debate and polarized the community for years, but eventually turned out to be a smoke screen.
The opposition party that came to power promised to restore the rule of law and jettison the branding policy. The new minister of culture announced the revision of project Skopje 2014, i.e. the reconstruction, removal or reorganization of squares, monuments and facades previously erected for the exorbitant price of 750 million euro. In the meantime, impartiality and historical accuracy of public museums were also to be scrutinized. Ex-Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski, convicted for abuse of power, managed to flee the country and was granted a political asylum in Hungary. Members of his cabinet have since been prosecuted.
Michał Siarek (1991) is a Polish documentary photographer driven by stories with complexities which require slow approach and long-term dedication. His debut project Alexander gained wide international recognition and resulted in a monograph bearing the same name. Siarek was awarded The New East Prize and the FIDAL Youth Photography Award, and was nominated for the Luma Dummy Book Award, the La Fabrica / Photo London Dummy Award and the MACK First Book Award. He is currently working on his second long-term project which explores social changes brought about by global warming and the competition over resources in the Arctic.
*Image (c): Michał Siarek, from Alexander (2013-2018)
Curator: Daria Tuminas
Production: Martha Stroo
Michał Siarek thanks: Marek Matyjanka, Blerim Rexhepi, Krzysztof Samir Ljuma, Krzysztof Pijarski, Olga Łacna, Daniel Zalewski, Agnieszka Dwernicka, Iris Sikking, Marga Rotteveel, Erik Vroons, Urszula Kahul, Michał Sierakowski and Anna Kieblesz.
FOTODOK thanks: City of Utrecht, the Mondriaan Fund, KF Hein Fund, the BankGiroLoterij Fonds – Doen Foundation, Fentener van Vlissingen, Fonds 21, and the Pictoright Fund.