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Picture Atlas > Building Site 

Building Site

Pictures that show Europe as a building site fall into a category of their own, not least because of their prominence during the EU-expansion 2004 but also because of the many associations that they call forth. In comparison with the few existing symbols of EU-Europe (flag, treaties, currency, anthem), the picture of Europe as a building site stands out primarily because it belongs emphatically to the everyday world: What a building-site is, and what happens there one can assume to be generally known. On a building site, work goes on, and generally a building is being erected. This gives rise to ideas of working together and ideas of constructiveness in general (the precise opposite of this would be destructive processes such as the tearing down of buildings or the kind of destruction that takes place as a result of war-like confrontations). Moreover the image of a building site is always associated with the idea of how the completed building will look and what will be its purpose: Will it be an inviting and open construction or a fortress, a communal house or an exclusive club, a solid building or a wobbly construction?

However varied the associations may be that are associated with the picture of a building site, there is one that is regularly missing in the context of EU-Europe: That is the image that Franz Kafka created in his narrative "In the Building of the Wall of China." Kafka tells there of an endless and fragmentary construction which began with the communal endeavour not to complete the structure. An inappropriate image for EU-Europe? If Kafka's building site suggests mistrust of the power radiating from completed buildings, then conversely those pictures that symbolize Europe as a building-site raise the question of how big is the probable power of those works currently under construction.

© Demokratiezentrum Wien

About the Project

The Picture Atlas is an outcome of the project ICONCLASH. Collective Icons and Democratic Governance in Europe

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