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March 22, 2017

Michal Siarek captures Macedonia’s attempt to revive history

Art & Cult

With 9m2, it’s the smallest living space on Volkshotel grounds. But don’t let its size fool you. This tiny eco-friendly hub, hidden in the parking lot of Volkshotel, might just contain the greatest ideas. Every month a new photographer is resident of photography platform Docking Station. As a ‘docker’ their goal is to move their visual story forward. By collaborating with experts in the field, encountering likeminded Dutchies or just by riding their docking bike through Amsterdam. Polish photographer Michal Siarek is our last docker. This is his story.


“The very first thing that I saw in Skopje was the construction of a 25-meter tall figure of a warrior on horseback which, from what I later found out, was the statue of Alexander the Great.

In 2010 the government of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia started an extensive project to revamp first the capital and then the entire country into the sense of connection with its alleged ancient roots. Alexander the Great, one of the most recognized and powerful rulers in history was acclaimed as the father of present Macedonian nation. However, modern Macedonia is a young post-Yugoslav, poorly developed country.”

Michał_Siarek_-_Alexander_15 (1)

“Greece was strongly opposed to any claims of this piece of history that, they believe, is exclusively Greek heritage. In order to protect its cultural consistence, the government blocked foreign policy of their neighbor, causing the isolation of the Republic of Macedonia.

A dream of lost nobility was the spark that ignited minds on both sides of the border. Over 2000 years after the collapse of the empire two countries started a dispute of origins and history as distant as they are illusory.”

13.02.2013, Skopje, Macedonia. The construction site of the future Archeological Museum of Macedonia.

“What was supposed to elevate the rising nation to dignity broke its spine while the elected authority radicalized and concerns about the rule of the law within the country began to rise. Macedonian government engaged considerable public funds and a serious propaganda apparatus in reinventing tradition and stimulating national consciousness.

Is it even possible to create a hybrid identity and to institute a myth to give the nation its pride, by erecting monuments made of bronze or plaster? That leads to crucial questions such as what constitutes a modern nation or who owns antiquity – which is also the foundation of western society. The Macedonian question remains unanswered however.

Although we know the tragic destiny of the hero and the futility of his actions, surrounded by the monumental decorations made of plaster, we keep waiting for the catharsis.”


Michal Siarek

Docking Station
Marga Rotteveel & Anaïs López (founders)

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