In Skopje, a government plan costing several hundred million euros is creating a brand new, ancient city center; the project is called “Skopje 2014.” So far, some thirty government buildings and museums, as well as countless monuments in the classic style have been erected in the Macedonian capital, in an attempt to put Skopje on a par with Rome and Athens. In some cases, existing socialist structures were incorporated into the new builds.
A city looks for a future in history – Macedonia is inventing itself as a nation with historical status based on a model of antiquity that never existed in that form. Will it work? Will we buy that (hi)story?
In “A Better History,” present-day Skopje becomes an archaeological dig. We can follow in real time how history is made, how antiquity is constructed, how historical singularities are manufactured via mimicry, and how the boundary between truth and falsification becomes blurred the minute something is recorded often enough on postcards.
A variety of differing ways of looking at the ongoing construction in Skopje produces a puzzle about multi-ethnic states and the phantasm of national purity, about romanticism and love, the relationship between personal memories and collective memory, and about how a history built on empty claims can actually take on substance.
This is not about the golden ages and the good old days; it is about Europe’s origins and the question of who belongs. It is about who owns the legacy of antiquity, about who belongs where; it is about migration and the criteria used to decide who is in and who is out, and according to what law. And it is about the fact that Europe comes from the East.
In collaboration with the composer Daniel Dominguez Teruel, a 24-page book of music entitled “Bigger than Life” was created, which will be included with the book. The photo series compiled by Nina and Adnan Softić comprises 56 images and montages. The book has been published in German and English. The accompanying “Bigger than Life” video installation opens on December 7, 2017 at Berlin’s Martin Gropius Bau.