Plunging the murky depths between history and myth, Alexander: Forging Utopia explores the fragile links between between politics, history and culture in the Balkan state of Macedonia.
Created by Polish photographer Michal Siarek, the photo series focuses on Macedonia’s search for a new national identity, centred on the legendary Alexander the Great. But claims on Alexander’s heritage have already dragged Skopje further into a bitter row with Greece — despite the dispute having origins so distant that they may have never existed at all.
“Macedonian society is divided on many levels and the whole topic of its ancient legacy is just the tip of the iceberg — a sum of more urgent issues,” Siarek told The Calvert Journal. “Until recently, there was no such nation or language as Macedonian. Today’s arguments are deeply rooted in the Balkan Wars, itself an aftermath of the rivalry between the West, Russia and Ottoman Empire. These are complicated and delicate matters, however the collapse of Yugoslavia has created a certain void.”
The series, which won Calvert 22 Foundation’s inaugural New East Photo Prize back in 2016, is now being released as a photo book for the first time with help and funding from the foundation.
Siarek will be releasing the book at a reception at Warsaw’s Instytut Fotografii Fort on 18 May, but pre-orders are already open for buyers worldwide. Sales from each hand-finished book will go towards the photographer’s future projects.
The 2018 edition of the New East Photo Prize is open for submissions until 15 June. For more information, click here.