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Gordian Knot

Sculptures of Alexander the Great are perhaps the most symbolic indicators of the ongoing animosity between Greece and the Republic of Macedonia—a country that came into existence following the dissolution of the former Yugoslavia. Greece perceives the Republic of Macedonia as a veiled threat to a region within its own territory that bears the same name. It is a conflict that is not only about borders or population; it is instead aimed towards the past, and cultural identities. Despite the protests of Greece, the government of Macedonia continues to feverishly attach its identity to the ancient period, and erect one Alexander the Great statue after the other. The question that concerns Çavuşoğlu is in the precise centre of this debate, dating back to the time of the Ancient Kingdom of Macedonia: who is the “true owner” of Macedonian cultural heritage? In “Gordian Knot”, the replica of the Head of Alexander does not only breach the singularity of the original, it also questions the claim of rights regarding history and land via cultural heritage. Departing from this debate, Çavuşoğlu’s installation dissects the argument that nations/individuals can sustain their existence only insofar as they are able to position their origins in the past, and in fact, that this continuity can, if necessary, be invented.

Extract from Özge Ersoy’s article commissioned by ARTER for the exhibition catalogue of Envy, Enmity, Embarrassmenttext. Read the full version here.

Ceramic, 50 x 29, h: 28 cm.

Photo: Hadiye Cangökçe