OPEN SECRETS: RELIIQUARY FOR THE PROTO-21ST CENTURY

KARPELES MUSEUM JACKSONVILLE

MARCH 5, 2001 - APRIL 25,2001
         

 Bactria is Burning wall-mounted.

Bactria is Burning

Bactria is an ancient Greek city-state founded by Alexander the Great in modern-day Afganistan. Bactria thrived through a combination of good fortune and its strategic location along the Silk Route. It was a Hellenistic island of culture that lasted longer deep in the heart of Asia than the Greek empire Alexander built in the Mediterranean. Because of its unique geography, Bactria was a direct contact between the Hellenistic world, Buddhism and the ancient civilizations of Asia. With time and new conquerors, Bactria fell into ruin. With the waning importance of the overland trade routes, it faded into obscurity. The name means little more than a sentence in the history of Alexander the Great. Yet some art of Bactria, with its Hellenistic Buddha and Asiatic Hercules, survived. Now that art too is lost forever.

 A Dirge in 25 Panels

The reliquary hold 25 wooden removable panels. Twelve panels have image of the art of Bactria and Twelve panels have images/text about the conflict. The last was for the hope of resolution. The earliest completed panels overlay pictures of both art and war with symbols of peace drawn from Greek, Buddhist, and Islamic sources. With each new attrocity, a archaic Greek mourner who is literally tearing their hair overlayed yet another panel. The motif comes from the . This famous geometric period cemetary urn is an early work to show a distinctively Greek style.

Image from one panel

 Display case at Karpeles with some panels from Bactria is Burning
 Bactria is Burning started as a protest against the looting and destruction of the war in Afganistan and as a talisman for peace, slowly as the Taliban hold on the country tighten, it became truely a reliquary for the dead. A requiem to all the people and all the beautiful things destroyed when ideology sunders the word of God from the breath that animates its spirit.

May that breath temper judgement. May that breath prompt just action. May that breath have mercy on the shrouded ghost-women who live in Bactria's ruins. May that breath have mercy on us all.

Links to Sites on the Internet about the conflict in Afganistan and the ancient culture of Bactria

 
 

 
 

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