Photographs that document the rebuilding of Skopje as home to Alexander the Great
In Michał Siarek's sensitive series Alexander, the Polish photographer follows the influence of Macedonia's decision to rebuild Skopje after discovering a connection with its alleged ancient roots to Alexander the Great.
The struggle he portrays represents the absurdity of a debate over ancient identity which directly clashes with the very modern and very real struggles with national identity, and the void created by the collapse of Yugoslavia. His series depicts the incongruity of Skopje's landscape with its new monumental decorations as well as the reactions and emotions surrounding its citizens.
Scooping the Calvert 22 Foundation's inaugural New East Photo Prize, Michal's series Alexander was crowned as the winner at a ceremony last night, beating over 1,000 entries and 11 shortlisted finalists.
Speaking of the series, Michal said: “In a way I was searching for the Alexander the Great, son of Heracles, mentioned in the Bible and the Quran, acclaimed conqueror of the whole new world. Then I fully understood how vital the topic was and how much I would have to learn. It all happened very naturally for me. As a child I used to really dream about adventures, I absolutely loved history and there I was with Macedonian Indiana Jones, driving my jeep through a mesmerising land to find my answers.”
Ekow Eshun, Creative Director of Calvert 22 Foundation said: "Michał Siarek’s Alexander is a compelling exploration of history, memory and national identity as rendered by a richly talented young photographer with an acute eye for detail. He is a worthy winner of the inaugural New East Photo Prize and we are delighted to now be working with him on the production of a photo book of his work."
An exhibition of the finalist's works will remain in situ at Calvert 22 Foundation's Shoreditch Space until 18 December 2016. Discover more at calvert22.org.
Via Creative Boom submission | Michal Siarek, Alexander – all images courtesy of the artist and Calvert 22 Foundation