Swiss Confederate Ursula does not have to worry, she’s Swiss & European

As a typically proud Swiss confederate, Ursula can take a sunbath and relax, because she is not one of the “Ellbögler”. She is a paediatrician in Thun, is married to a surgeon, and has three children. Maybe her relaxed attitude is also due to the fact that her assets are safely invested in Novartis AG, and Nestle AG, compounding interest. She is Swiss and European.

My European Faces: Saturnus, Roman forebear of Jesus, is Italian, European

The Roman god Saturnus is a metaphor for the ancients’ understanding of time. He is master over the seasons, death and rebirth, he gives bounty and he destroys life. His birthday was celebrated on December 25th, at the winter solstice, that inflection point after which the light would return. Christus, whose birth is celebrated on December 25th as well, who died and was reborn on Easter, is a modern replacement of the eternally existing god of creation. Saturnus is Roman, Italian, and European.

My European Faces: Alexandra David-Néel, Artist, Explorer, Buddhist, Belgian, European

Alexandra David Néel, a freedom loving Orientalist, was celebrated as opera singer in Hanoi, Athens, and Tunis, before traveling for ten years to India to improve her knowledge of Buddhism, There, she met with the Dalai Lama and by 1916, had traveled to Tibet as the first western person to do so. The Panchen Lama, second in authority only to the Dalai Lama, ordained her as a Tibetan Lama, and honorary doctor of Buddhism. This Asia explorer and world-renowned Buddhist scholar was Belgian, Tibetan, French and European.

My European Faces: Christao, a healer by laying-on-hands, is Portugese, European

For several years, Christao lives on his own in a small Portugese village close to the most Western point of Portugal. He is tending his beautiful orchard and kitchen garden. The villagers swear that they are not superstitious but pragmatic when bringing him their ailing animals, which he heals by laying-on-hands. They also say that he is a miracle healer for infertile women, that he is a truly nice guy and very generous. He is Portugese and European.

My European Faces: Agustina de Aragón, female battery commander, Spanish, British, European

This Spanish heroine and guerilla fighter, whose son was shot in front of her eyes by Napoleon’s troops, was trained by the Duke of Wellington to committ sabotage against the French army. Agustina began to fight for the allied forces as Wellington’s only female officer, rising to the rank of Captain. and was a battery commander at the Battle of Vitoria. This true swashbuckler, was Spanish, British and European.

Krystyna Skarbek, OBE, GM, SOE, daring British spy, was Polish, British and European

Polish-jewish countess Krystyna Skrabek a.k.a. Christina Granville was the first and longest serving female British spy in WWII. Considered absolutely fearless as well as reckless, the expert skier and knife-wielding socialite, saved the day many times. This heroine survived six years of service under extremely dangerous risks — the average life expectancy of a British spy was six weeks — only to be killed by a jilted civilian after the war. In 1945, when no longer needed, she was abandoned by the country she served so bravely. To make a living, she had to take lowly jobs, where she met the jealous man that stabbed her to death. Krystyna, the free spirit, was proudly Polish, British and European.

Ion, sharing his life with rescued dogs, is Romanian and European

Ion has consistently made the experience that people don’t recognize his compassionate character, but judge him by his looks. He lives in Bucharest like a recluse in the creaky house of his deceased parents, which he shares with 30 rescued dogs. Caring for so many animals is no mean feat. The little time left in the day, he gets solace from reading the incredible body of Romanian literature: From Alecu Văcărescu to Tristan Tzara; from Mircea Eliade to Ion Barbu. He is Romanian and European.

My European Faces: Judith Kerr, beloved children’s books author, is Jewish, German, French, British and European

Judith Kerr gave us the book “When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit” — the story of a refugee child during WWII — among many other beloved children’s books. The sanguine writer, depicted here as a seven-year old, was born in 1923. When her father was asked, if he would not want to move back to France after the war, where the food was better, and his language skills superior, he purportedly replied: “Only if I can take all of the wonderful British people, that helped us so much, with me.” She is German, French, British and European.

My European Faces: Milena, a shepherdess, is Bulgarian, European

Milena tends a flock of forty rare Karakachan sheep, an old Bulgarian breed with long, brown hair and horns like corkscrews. She guards the flock with her dog and best friend Vasil. Together, they criss-cross the Pirin mountains all summer. European politics seems very far away to her. She is very concerned for her sheep, since the weather becomes year after year more extreme. Torrential rain falls, and sudden storms, but also long droughts, poor pastures, and increasing water shortages. Last year, when the mothers had too little milk, she tried to raise the lambs with a bottle, but couldn’t save them all. Milena is Bulgarian and European.

My European Faces

“My European Faces” is a a series of portraits inquiring what makes Europeans European — beyond their current identity as an economic joint venture.
It includes mythological, historic, imaginary, public, and private people filtered through my liking, beliefs, emotions, and memories. In its entirety, the series aims to reveal the family resemblance (Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, 1953) of Europeans.

My European Faces: Ananke, Goddess of Fate, Greek, European

On 11.April 2019, a long extension for Great Britain is reached: Ananke is reminding Europeans of the necessity of the Law of Nature. According to Orphism, Ananke formed herself at the dawn of creation in an incorporeal, serpentine form, her outstretched arms encompassing the cosmos. Ananke and Time (Chronos) are belonging together, holding each other in serpent form as a tie around the universe. Their destructive act, of crushing an egg (big bang), created the decomposed parts that formed earth, heaven, and ocean. Ananke, mother of the Moirai is universal, Greek, and also European.

My European Faces: Kyria, blinded by Greece’s glorious past, is Greek, European

For Kyria, an archaeologist and Classics scholar, Greece and Europe are defined by the past, not the present. Her Greece is that of the Illyad, Athens under Pericles, Alexander’s empire, Herakleitos, Plato, and Aristotle. She cannot see the decline of talent that has plagued Europe since 400 BC, and specifically how a trauma of four centuries of suppression, and two world wars, would — even today — hamper Greeks’ agency, cognition, and problem solving. She is Greek and European.

My European Faces: Lola gave up running, she is German, European

Lola, a former actress, always believed that humans can change for the better. And when she –like her entire generation— looked back at her grandparents, she felt relieved by the idea that she’d do better, if she was in their situation. However, it recently dawned on her that she’s back in 1929. The ugly beast is lifting its head again. The intimidation and the “looking the other way” are starting again: We know where you live…. Today she realizes: Germans are and always were odium looking for a cause. Nothing has changed. They just suppressed their zeal while it was opportune. She is German and European.

My European Faces: Quasimodo, exploited creature, French, European

The Hunchback of Notre Dame, 1939: Exploited creature, cruel mob, abuse of power, persecuted minority; the film is based on a book by Victor Hugo, a French writer, starring Sir Charles Laughton, a British actor, directed by William Dieterle, a German director, and filmed while Germany tried to subdue Europe. When Laughton heard the news that Great Britain had declared war on Germany, he rang the bells until he collapsed. Just another European story… 

My European Faces: Goddess Diana, Italian, European

Fierce huntress Diana, a Roman goddess, has essential character attributes that have been shaping Great Britain and Europe’s history for a very long time: Think Guinevere, Elisabeth I, Diane de Poitiers, Jeanne D’Arc or Lou Andreas-Salomé. Here, depicted in an early Renaissance style as an iconic figure, she is Italian and certainly also European.

My European Faces: Triin, Pride of Central Saint Martin, Estonian, British, European

Triin, an Estonian snow queen, wears her dreadlocks in a fashion reminiscent of a sophisticated 18th-century Rococo hairdo. Looking at Thomas Gainsborough’s Portrait of the Duchess of Beaufort, one wonders, if their taste and style are so different. Triin will be a triumph for Central Saint Martin’s Fashion Programme, and is delighted to be British, and European.

My European Faces: Jan, consultant, boatbuilder, Dutch, European

Jan works 16-hour days at a strategic consulting firm, and keeps fit. But as soon as he lets up, dread overwhelms him; he feels, as if he’s lost his way. Sometimes, he wakes up at night and remembers how he used to work at a small shipyard, wind in his face, smells of wood, saltwater, and lacquer wafting through the air; the sounds of the sea gulls, the clinking of tackle, and the ocean waves drowning out all other sounds. 

My European Faces: Anne, a student, posing at her favorite Haunt in London

Anne, a comparative literature and feminist theory student, finds the “Matrix” overrated and throws Lacan and Žižek around, incessantly, for she wishes to emulate her existentialist Parisian grandmother. While she might be posing, when she says “I identify as gender-neutral, and French”, she will always be British, and European.

Press Release: My European Faces

The Art of Brexit: Portraits Reveal Europeans and Brits Cannot Split. The artist Arstyr demonstrates, with a series of portraits, that “you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave!”

Overconfident Sauropod

On a melting wrench, reptile-faced figurines on monocycles speed down a rail into a hot void.

Once Upon A Time…

The project “Once upon a time….” includes illustrations of fairy tales or children books. Most of those I created when I was a kid myself, and between four and twelve years old. This blog post offers a first selection…

What’s in a Face?

Which face do I choose to show the world? This post features some examples of how I developed my visual online identity. The portrait above was my second contender.