What they destroy, we will build again!
In May 2015, IS militants occupied the ancient Syrian excavation site of Palmyra and demolished most of its structures, including the triumphal arch. As “an act of defiance” against this cultural censorship, the British Institute for Digital Archaeology replicated the demolished arch. In April 2016, the life-size scale reconstruction was erected at Trafalgar Square, London, and has since travelled to several cities across the globe.The words of (then-) London mayor Boris Johnson, “what they destroy, we will build again”, poses a binary narrative that presents construction as the opposite of deconstruction; inexhaustible, idealistic construction as the solution to inexhaustible, idealistic deconstruction. This installation uses the recreated Arch of Palmyra as a case study to excavate landscapes of power, and to talk about neo-colonial appropriation of heritage in an age of digital reconstruction and contemporary iconoclasm.