Saturday, 07 May 2011 11:44

Art: Nutcrackers, Interns and Children.

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'Nussknacker' by Daniela Nasoni, Varese

I won't claim to understand art, or even that I particularly like it, but these three projects were too intriguing to miss. In a small empty shop in the centre of the sleepy town of Landau stood the recycled box sentinel, a nutcracker dead in the eyes, but a gift to anyone who wanted to take it away from its creator. Daniela Nasoni, from Italy, aims to make one for every person in the world, over 6 billion in total, and is wiling to spend every day of her life fulfilling this daunting task. By the end of the week the room was filled with giant nutcrackers, eight feet tall and made of cardboard.

Daniela, a former painter, took the inspiration for her new project from the E.T.A. Hoffmann stories, from which Tchaikovsky also drew his Nutcracker ballet. In the story, the Nutcracker is a toy given to a little girl as a gift and becomes a figure defending her through terrible dreams. The aim of the project is twofold; to give a gift out of pure kindness, that represents human beings as all the same without asking anything in return, and the aim to subvert the labour market, through her volunteering, and thereby hopefully change society for the better.

Each Nutcracker takes five hours to make, and so far Daniela has given 28 away; perhaps surprisingly only 3 offers to strangers have been rejected so far. Nevertheless, this daily basic act of volunteeting will need at lot longer than this weekend's residency to bring her dream to life...

Photo: Mathew Shearman
Daniela Nasoni with one of her Nutcrackers, soon to be painted.

Photo Exhibition by Elisabetta Lombardo, Berlin

The second project was a little clearer, a photography exhibition that documents the experiences of interns from a number of European countries. In her introduction, Elisabetta described the vicious cycle young Europeans face before getting a job. On leaving school or university there could be years of working for free for a variety of organisations. Her own experience had included three internships before becoming employed. Through her art, she hoped to create a fundamental rethink on the way the job market in Europe works.  

Giant nutcrackers, eight feet tall and made of cardboard. 

Most striking were the photos of the backs of people's heads. The majority of the participants had consented to having their image attached to a written statement of their experience. Some however refused, and instead you had a head shot that did not give the name or face of the participant. As Elisabetta explained, those interns were fearful that if the exhibition came to their country and their employers heard of their participation, they would lose their internships and damage their potential for future employment. 

For advice on interning with a positive ending, check out Kate's story in our aticle 'riding out the economic storm' in Issue 7.  

Best works of 'Europaischer Wettbewerb', Europa Union.

Finally, a major partner of the weekend, 'Europa Union' provided examples of 'insert name', a project that involves school children in the ideas of Europe with the expressed aim of rousing their interest in Europe and helping them become active European citizens. These projects have been running for 53 years and select a theme to be explored across the continent. In line with the European year of volunteering (the reason we're at the citizens convention, by the way!) the children colourfully showed ways they could become involved in society.

Maybe its just another example of my ill refined artistic taste, but is it wrong that I preferred the children's art?  

Photo: mathew Shearman
Sixth Sense Editor, Matt with a representative from Europa Union and examples of art from the 'Europaischer Wettbewerb'.

What does Europe mean to you?

As with all live E&M interviews, we ended our chat with the artists and organisors with a deceptively simple question. 'What does Europe mean to you?': Just like the art, the answers were eclectic and insightful.

  • To Daniela it was 'The inhabitants, but this is connected to all the people I think of with my project!' 
  • To Elisabetta it was 'going beyond nationalisms, and realising that we are all the same.'
  • And the representative from 'Europa Union', said  'To me and my generation it means Freedom. No matter what all the bad things with the EU might be, mainly high taxes, none can be as expensive as just one day of war.'
Last modified on Sunday, 08 May 2011 07:26
Matt Shearman

Matt Shearman, Brain of E&M, is originally from Yorkshire, UK, but now lives in London, having arrived there via Berlin and Oxford. He holds an MSc in International Relations and is into E&M because he is fascinated by identity, nationality and transnationality. For more political commentary on Europe / Germany / international relations, follow him on twitter: @shearmanm

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