Remap Europe

AN H BOMB IN PATAGONIA. Remapping Europe. Royal College of Art. Lecture-brief 6.3.2013 from Federico Vladimir on Vimeo.

The new brief, with the work of the guest can be found in the video above. The guest this time was a student currently studying at the RCA in the second year. The video talks about natives and paleolithic stories, changing the narrative, myths, parallelisms, echoes, fictionalising what hasn’t been documented, changing the play without changing the power rules.

The new brief: “Re-map Europe”

  • maps embody power relations
  • it’s social and political
  • the cartographer has scientific skills, although he doesn’t own the truth
  • maps still say the 19th century territorial story-telling
  • European narrative is not as simple and linear as it seems, it’s changing
  • the citizen, the voter have active roles
  • a map can be drawn on a wall and can be considered as a work of art, a political action, or meditation
  • don’t stick to an image
  • a map is all about performance
  • design a map that invites the reader to perform an action, to move, to look for adventure
  • new narratives – new maps
  • old narratives are falling down
  • it’s about failing

I like the idea of creating out of failure, as Europe is collapsing these days, by creating new narratives or reconsidering the language we use it creates a new insights/perspectives.

Some notes from ‘The Shallows’ by Nicholas Carr:

  • mapmaking skills are parallel to our maturity/ growing up: from egocentric/sensory perception to adult’s more abstract and objective analysis of experience (Carr, p.40)
  • maps used to represent ideas- not only stores and transmits information but also embodies a particular mode of seeing and thinking.
  • the technology of the map gave to man a new and more comprehending mind, better able to understand the unseen forces that shape his surroundings and his existence (Carr, p.41)

Well, the first insights I took forward was that

  • Europe is falling apart these days, it’s failing. 
  • stories and myths were the medium to refer to places/mapmaking.
  • there’s a division between North and South Europe

Random and stupid first ideas I had/references

  • Chinese could adopt all the Europeans (because they’re getting poor)
  • Demolish the whole Europe and rebuild it again – from destruction blooming emerges  again
  • get some international yellow pages and call one person from each European country. Ask them something. Collect responses. For example, what shape do you feel Europe is today?!
  • Baldessari’s ‘California Map Project’ (1969), which he put all the letters from the map on the actual places
  • give South Europe the wealth the North has, and give the North some of the sun the South has
  • Give countries the land they deserve depending on their debt! So if your country want a bigger land they have to decrease their debt.
  • Re-map Europe. The mythical Europe as mentioned in Ancient Greek mythology.
  • Europe is full of metaphors, stories and myths. Use that. Recreate Europe through people’s stories.

Europe as illustrated on mosaics and art

Europe as illustrate on the Greek and Cypriot €2 coin

I really liked the myth idea and I took it on board. The Europe myth goes like this:

Europe was the daughter of Aginor and Telephassa. When she was young she had a dream: she saw two women, named West and East, having an argument which is going to take her. West eventually won. Some years later, on a day when she and her friends were picking flowers in the sun, Zeus saw her and he was immediately seduced by her. He then transformed into a white bull, and approached her very calmly. Europe was cheated by the bull’s beauty and calm, she stroked it’s back, put flowers on him and then sat on his back. The bull then took this opportunity and made a massive jump into the Aegean sea and landed in Crete. When they landed there, the bull went up to the sky and the well know Taurus zodiac was formed. Zeus then took his normal form and expressed his love for Europe: “accept my love and you will give birth to sons that will rule all the people. From you, a big part of the universe will take your name”. Europe accepted and they had three sons who later became kings: Sarpidonas, Radamanthis and Minoas, who later became the king of Crete. Zeus later married her with King of Crete, Asterio. Zeus gave great presents to her, the most important of them was giving her a continent, Europe as we know it today.

There are many versions but I decided to keep this. I wanted to recreate/continue the myth so it relates to reality. But then just presenting the text it won’t be very interesting. With text work I feel you need to find a way that really engages the reader. Also, the brief was asking to create a map which invites the reader to perform an action, to respond.

The solution was to perform the story by revealing the reality behind each metaphor.


Here I’m analysing the original myth and trying to use different elements of the story as metaphors for Europe’s reality today. On the left elements from the original story, on the right what they can represent in reality today


Creating the new story

The idea was to create layers of text and while I’m telling the story I will be ripping a piece of paper and the real word behind the metaphor will be revealed. For example, Europe had many kids with Asterio – at that point I rip the page and the word ‘Capitalism’ appears in the place of the word ‘Asterio’.

Here are all the layers:

recreation of the myth-01 recreation of the myth1 recreation of the myth2 recreation of the myth3 recreation of the myth4 recreation of the myth5

How it looked at my crit:

photo-7 image-6 image-5


Unfortunately I got very nervous at the time I was performing my piece and screwed it up – my performance was particularly considered as “rubbish” from Neville! I was aware of it as I printed out the whole thing in the morning and didn’t have time for it. I also give preconceptions before presenting, for example: “it’s gonna be boring” etc – all because of my lack of confidence which ruins all my projects.

Other than the performance people really liked the idea and they said I should maybe embrace this messy character of my performance – I could shout the story while aggressively ripping off the paper, something that would suggest the crisis-like seek of truth behind the ‘big’ words.

More feedback:

  • maps as story telling and myths is a good way of presenting this
  • explore alternative mechanisms of presenting this
  • the aspect of revealing attracted people to it
  • maybe the text could be written on object (cubes or long triangular shapes) which I can flip
  • it could also be a line of text on the wall – walking, telling the story and ripping
  • maybe start with the original myth, create several myths for different other eras of Europe and then lead to the last one, the one I created for today’s reality



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