The European Pavilion: Kick off meeting Back

The European Pavilion: Kick off meeting

In July 2020, we kicked start our initiative for a European Pavilion with brainstorm meeting that brought together a group of curators, artists, and foundation representatives. The meeting was part of an exploratory process in which we gathered different perspectives and interests, and reflected on whether the creation of a European Pavilion in a completely ‘new’ way is a significant symbol of a positive European sentiment and solidarity.

Participants to the meeting included:

  • Anna Arutyunova (Head Pro Helvetia Moscow, Russia)
  • Julie Chénot (Director, Camargo Foundation, Cassis, France)
  • Stefania Coni (International projects coordinator, Fondazione CRT, Turino)
  • Joseph Gaylard (Head Pro Helvetia Johannesburg, South Africa)
  • Maria Hlavajova (Director, BAK- basis voor actuele kunst, Utrecht, Netherlands)
  • Timea Junghaus (Curator and cultural activist, Executive Director of the European Roma Institute for Arts and Culture in Berlin)
  • Lorenzo Marsili (Founder Biennale Archipelago, Palermo, Italy)
  • Simon Njame (Curator Dak’Art, African Contemporary Arts Biennial)
  • Samuele Piazza (Curator, OGR- Officine Grandi Riparazioni, Turin, Italy)
  • Teja Reba (Artistic director, City of Women festival, Ljubjana, Croatia)
  • Adama Sanneh (Director, Moleskine Foundation, Milan Italy)
  • Madeleine Schuppli (Head of Visual Arts, Pro Helvetia, Switzerland)
  • Dea Vidović (Director, Kultura Nova Foundation, Zagereb, Croatia)

Four main questions informed our discussions:

  • What is a European public space? Where and what are the borders of Europe (mentally, physically, symbolically)?
  • How is diversity across regions, nationalities, cultural histories defining a post-colonial Europe?
  • What is the meaning of the cultural statement of a European Pavilion and to whom does it appeal? How to define a new framework and develop political consciousness beyond the national, and embrace differences and frictions?
  • How can the Pavilion idea look like and where can it take place? How can such an arts and cultural project engage a broad range of people emotionally?

At the end of the meeting, some key considerations emerged, on which to base the development of the European Pavilion:

The Pavilion should be a place for radical questioning of Europe rather than aiming at finding a definite answer. It should adopt a decentralized approach that allows to bridge local contexts and lived experience with the European dimension and include perspective from outside of Europe. Through a networked approach, experimental and bottom-up processes would be encouraged.