Opinion Playtime Jan28 2016, Amsterdam

EU Symbolism Slideshow: Some Explanations

Elisa prepared a slideshow for our Open Classroom “Searching for a New European Symbolism”. Some of the slides feature the results of our request for personalized flags at our Housewarming. We also featured gifs in which we played with the flags of Europe and with Domenique’s work “Asielzoekers Zijn Okay”. But in addition to all that, we tried to find some symbols of Europe.

It wasn’t easy. After all, what single image actually corresponds to even a collection of European countries, let alone Europe as a whole? And more to the point, how can we find an image that reflects everyday life across Europe, and not simply something distant and institutional (although I threw some of the obvious symbols in as well).

Anyway, here are the explanations for the symbols featured (at 4.49 mins). They seem to provide a broad enough starting point for a larger archive, but we’ll see…

Say No to the EU: Symbolic of the fissures emerging in Europe, especially on the European periphery

Pingu: Pingu is broadcast across Europe and everyone understands it

Champions league football: Probably the most popular and popularly received symbol of Europe

Parthenon: Symbolises European civilisation, with connotations of democracy, history and power

De Chirico painting: A surrealist dreamscape that is quintessentially European, symbolic of the strangeness of society in interwar Europe

Cif: several years ago Jif became Cif to give consistency to the brand across Europe, and so all Europeans could pronounce it

J’accuse: Émile Zola’s famous article on the Dreyfus Affair, symbolic of Europeans’ long and often abominable treatment of its Jewish community

Stop Desahucios: A logo of PAH, a Spanish movement fighting against housing evictions, symbolic of the success of a new form of political organisation that could provide a model for the whole of Europe

Mai 68: A poster from the May 68 protest in Paris, symbolic of European youth in revolt

Atomkraft Nein Danke: A Europe-wide symbol calling for nuclear disarmament

Woman on leaping bull: the Goddess Europa, from whom Europe gets its name. The mother of King Minos of Crete, a Phoenician woman of high lineage who was abducted and raped by Zeus.

Red and white sign on a tree: The sign for hiking routes across Europe

Europe, The Final Countdown: Image of the band Europe’s most famous single

EU Barcode: Rem Koolhaas design for a new EU flag featuring the colours of all the countries’ flags, symbolic of a desiccated compromise typical of the EU (at 3.25)