Monument to Another Man’s Fatherland

Part 1: Revolt of the Giants - reconstructed from reproductions

35mm film, 47 min. b/w silent + index poster, 2008-2009

Part 2: Revolt of the Giants - recited by prospective Germans

16mm film, 26 min., sound, 2008


Part 1

In 2008 we proposed the Berlin State Museums to collaborate with us on an art project that would address the provenance of the Pergamon altar: one of the highlights of their collection, which originates from present day Turkey. The museum refuted our proposal. “This might stir the debate about repatriation”, something the museum was “not interested in”.

Numerous images of the Pergamon altar circulate in academic books and guides that have been published throughout the years. Appropriating these existing reproductions, we reconstructed a mythical battlefield that is sculpted on the altar’s frieze, and filmed the collage.

Part 2

Motivated by rising nationalism and in response to integration lagging behind, many European countries introduced a proficiency integration exam. This prepares new migrants for the difficult task of learning the language and culture of their new fatherland. Only after passing the exam can applicants obtain their papers for migration.

While on residency with Platform Garanti we asked young Turkish men and women who were preparing for the German integration exam, to describe the sculpted frieze of the Pergamon Altar in their fledgling German. In front of a 16mm camera, and whilst grappling with difficult pronunciation and terms that are not taught in the course (such as serpent's leg) the aspirant migrants describe the entire mythical battle scene between gods and giants

Commissioned and produced by Project Arts Center, Dublin. Supported by the Netherlands Film Fund, the Netherlands Foundation for Visual Arts, Design and Architecture. Thanks to Arnout Killian (sound), Platform Garanti and Goethe Institute Istanbul.