Beware of Antiquity Beware of Antiquity
The Porta Macedonia triumphal arch, erected in 2012. Photo by Peter Forsberg/Alamy Stock Photo

Beware of Antiquity

An Architectural Lesson from Skopje
Stach Szabłowski
time 8 minutes

Sometimes a regular trip can become a journey through time—and an instructive history lesson at that. Especially in a place like Skopje, the North Macedonian city whose ambitions—and design—date back to the times of Alexander the Great.

I passed through Skopje in fall 2022. I had heard a lot about the exceptional fate of this city in the 21st century, but to hear is one thing, and to see is another—there were still some shocks and surprises.

As I walked through the streets of the North Macedonian capital, I thought about Planet of the Apes. Franklin J. Schaffner’s movie—released in 1968—is pretty old, yet is hard to forget. One sentence in particular stuck in my mind: “The question is not so much where we are as when we are.”

In Planet of the Apes, a team of astronauts find themselves in a world where an alternate evolutionary scenario took place. The roles of apes and hominins were reversed: the hominids (Hominidae) created language, culture, technology, and civilization itself, while humans (Homo) function on the margins of society. Thus they do not have the status of people and the rights that go with it; they are the equivalent of what we still like to call “animals” in our anthropocentric culture.

Downgraded to the level of animals, the astronauts wonder where they are; how this world can


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War, Never Again? War, Never Again?
“Never again war”, Wilhelm Sasnal, 2018. Photo by Marek Gardulski; source: Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw

War, Never Again?

A Century of Anti-Fascist Art
Stach Szabłowski

The Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw is holding an exhibition on traditional and contemporary anti-fascism in art.

It is September. We are commemorating the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of World War II. We are in a city that was razed to the ground by fascists and we have a crisis in democracy. Can you imagine a better time, location or circumstances in which to put on an art exhibition against war and fascism? The title of the exhibition sounds a little like moral blackmail. Never Again. Art against War and Fascism in the 20th and 21st Centuries. Can one possibly disagree with such art? Who supports war? Who is in favour of fascism? Even a decade ago, the answer to these questions would have been obvious to the point of being boring. However, we are living in interesting times in which the obvious of yesterday isn’t so obvious any more.

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