What is it about?

In a convulsive moment for Europe, in which different forces and political movements question its current status, it seems interesting to reflect on the very idea of Europe. On this occasion, we will do it from an artistic and spatial perspective, investigating different images and texts that aim at exploring the essence of Europe, agreeing that its driving force and reason for being is a permanent process of crisis and opposition integration of the Other. These images, inserted within the historical period that goes from the Enlightenment to our days, are especially relevant for a further understanding of a Europe since their juxtaposition reverses the rhythm of a linear conception of progress. Instead, they show a recurrent cycle that keeps the unfinished European project in permanent realization.

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Why is it important?

A critical view of Europe from architecture as the mainframe.

Perspectives

This paper explores the spatiotemporal construction of modern Europe through its cyclical (non-linear and non-symmetrical) self-conscience within a perpetual state of crisis. Following Marramao and Merleau-Ponty’s conjecture, this construction is always opposed to the Other (or its Others), as the Abendland, and it only exists because of the projection of its gaze towards the East. Following a series of images, from the decadent Venetian paintings of the Tiepolos to the artificial suns of Laurent Grasso and other contemporary artists, we seek to unveil the intertwined forces of décadence and élan–which could be translated as “impulse”, “momentum” or “vigorous spirit”—that determine the continuous becoming of Europe. These images, reflecting a permanent moment of crisis, are especially relevant for the spatialization of a Europe, since their juxtaposition reverses the rhythm of a linear conception of progress. Instead, they show a recurrent cycle that keeps the unfinished European project in permanent realization.

Carlos Tapia-Martin
Universidad de Sevilla

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This page is a summary of: Europe: Décadence et élan. Images of the eternal return of Abendland, Cogent Arts and Humanities, March 2019, Taylor & Francis, DOI: 10.1080/23311983.2019.1601054.
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