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“In times of contemporary iconoclasm and the possibility for infinite digital reconstruction, this 2-screen video installation functions as a visual essay that questions the Institute For Digital Archeology’s replica of the Palmyra Arch as neo-colonial appropriation of heritage.”
Astrid Feringa, Author, to DocuBase
In May 2015, IS militants occupied the ancient Syrian excavation site of Palmyra and demolished most of its structures, including the Arch of Triumph. Although the Arch had stood for centuries prior in Palmyra, it only received media attention worldwide after it was severely damaged. Using photogrammetry, the Institute for Digital Archaeology created a replica of the arch, and within a year of the original arch’s destruction, the replica was touring the world. In his speech during the unveiling ceremony of the replica, then-mayor of London Boris Johnson said, “What they destroy, we will build again.” Astrid Feringa poses that these words present a powerful and binary narrative.
“What they destroy, we will build again” is a 2-screen video installation that uses the recreated arch of triumph as a case study to talk about neo-colonial appropriation of heritage in an age of digital reconstruction. While the arch was intended to be a symbol of solidarity, in this installation Astrid Feringa argues that the Western oriented cultural discourse ignored a longer history of colonial appropriation of heritage.