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''Principle of Hope Europe'' Project: When Artistic Research Meets European History

By Blandine Smilansky, Educator, House of European History

On Thursday 18th October 2018, nine students and two teachers from the Master’s program “Research in Design, Art and Media” at the Merz Akademie in Stuttgart presented their works, inspired by a visit to the House of European History and the questions it triggered for them.

Is Europe more a space or an idea? Is there still a potential for utopian projects about Europe, or can Europe today only inspire scepticism and criticism? What role does the history of the continent play in this? Which figures, events and traditions can be considered relevant to understand current times and to anticipate future developments?

Through their own artistic methods and tools, students gave these questions — which are at the heart of the House of European History team’s reflection and practice — a new impetus, a different twist and an offbeat perspective.

David Quigley, professor of cultural theory at Merz Akademie and one of the project initiators explained that the students were “looking to move within the fields of the political and the historical, but following different rules”. Students reinterpreted images, stories and cultural representations in highly personal and provocative ways to critically examine the way history shapes the contemporary world.

“Out of the immediate mystery of the present, we begin to imagine an approach to representing European History that could be more enigmatic, abstract, poetic” said David Quigley. And indeed, students showed unexpected and unusual artistic products with strong meanings - posters, drawings, collages, slogans, soundscapes, infographics and installations rethinking the significance we apply to issues of power, identity or inclusion in Europe today.

This evening may have contributed to show the implementation of what Ernst Bloch, the philosophical reference at the start of the students’ research, described as “informed discontent”. It demonstrated how a critical approach, how questioning and deconstructing, sheds new light on contemporary phenomena and explores alternative paths towards potential futures.

The evening certainly revealed how fruitful confronting perspectives and practices across the artistic and historical disciplines can prove. Thank you to the young artists, filmmakers and designers who took up the challenge to use the dense and complex contents of the House of European History as raw material for their own researches and creations!

For a presentation of the students’ work:

Presentations of paper, print and sound projects by Corinna Kiefer, Dario Renner, Shashank Patel, Hanna Rittich, Daya Sieber, Lisa Tröger. Film Program: Judith Engel, Matthias Rott, Daphne Szlósarczyk


Art collage by Judith
Collage with dinosaurs


Banner image
Daphne Szlósarczyk, A Short Excursion through Europe's History

Images above
Judith Engel: Outburst (left) , Lisa Troger: 24/7 (right)

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Corinna Kiefer: Who?, Dario Renner: Paperwork, Lisa Troger: 24/7