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If you're looking for a resonant point of departure for contemporary art, you could do worse than Dura Europos. The stories of this ancient city near the Syria-Iraq border are at the center of "Theater of Operations," Baris Dogrusoz's solo at the Sursock Museum's Twin Galleries. Centering on a ruined desert fortress, "Theater of Operations" scrutinizes fortification narratives.It's the Sassanids who've been credited with mastering the tunneling lore needed to undermine the massive walls of fortresses like Dura Europos.Nowadays, it's said at least 70 percent of the Dura Europos site's been destroyed by explosives and earthmovers, employed to uncover treasure for the market. Few would argue that these losses outweigh the human costs of the Syrian conflict, but they are informative of the perpetrators' relationship to history characters in a narrative to which they are hostile or indifferent.Dogrusoz's 2017 work takes the form of a looped video that mingles aerial and orbital images with diagrams of the Dura Europos site and footage from within the city walls.This looped video installation returns to Dura Europos, more diligently pushing a history-sort-of-repeats-itself narrative.
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