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Youth art for Europe at the Bundestag

The Bundestag is currently exhibiting works of art by young artists. As part of the European Competition, school students turned their concerns and wishes into art.

“I’m thrilled, it’s a wonderful exhibition,” Claudia Roth (Alliance 90/The Greens) said enthusiastically. The Vice-President of the German Bundestag opened an exhibition entitled “Shaping Europe” at the Bundestag yesterday. Young artists from across Germany had come to Berlin to present their works of art, which were produced as part of the European Competition, one of the longest-running competitions for school students in Europe.

The works of art are now on display in one of the Bundestag’s buildings, the Paul Löbe Building. It is also possible to catch a glimpse of the artworks through the vast glass façade of the building, which is located close to the “Bundestag” U-Bahn station.

Roth praised the works produced by the young artists: “There are really fantastic works of art here which will give the secretaries-general of many political parties ideas for their political posters.” She said that the artworks show, with a great deal of empathy and artistic finesse, what it means to work for our “European Home”.

“Brexit was a huge blow”

Emily Hager’s artwork shows what it can look like if our “European Home” falls apart. She drew herself in her room, looking up in shock at her ceiling, where a large hole is opening with the UK flag. She captures the scale of the shock caused by Brexit, the UK’s exit from the European Union, and how large a hole it leaves behind.

“I have relatives who come from the UK,” she explained. “They considered emigrating to Germany because of Brexit.” In her eyes, Europe is a community of mutual support and assistance. Brexit has changed that. Moreover, “It’s not as easy now for people to visit their families. That’s a huge blow,” she said.

“Europa is a confederation based on solidarity”

Mathilda’s artwork depicts the journey undertaken by refugees. At the start, there are people holding weapons, representing wars and conflicts worldwide – the causes of refugee flows. At the end, there are people holding hands, symbolising the European countries. If they stand together, they can take people in and help them, according to Mathilda. 

“Europe is a confederation based on solidarity,” she said regarding her work of art. “It’s important to me that our differences are not what matter most.” Instead, she argued, Europe’s countries should stand together in crises, but also in good times, and get through these times together; then the crises would be less severe.

“Together, but diverse”

Luca Knickelmann produced three posters examining the concept of an “area of peace”. He took photos from the past and juxtaposed them with pictures he created. A church destroyed in the Second World War is paired with an image of it after being rebuilt, a border fence is shown with an image of countries connected without borders, and a Nazi in the Third Reich holding an anti-Semitic placard is replaced by a drawing featuring many religious symbols.

“Europe belongs together, but remains diverse,” Luca said regarding his work of art. It symbolises the fact that there are no more wars in Europe, with the European countries cooperating instead. Nonetheless, he said, they should be able to remain diverse in cultural and religious terms and show tolerance towards each other.

Achieving more together

Emily, Mathilda and Luca were told about the competition by their schools. All three were excited to be invited to the Bundestag. “It’s a great feeling to be here at the Bundestag, and to talk with Claudia Roth,” Emily said. It had shown her “that politicians are just normal people too”.

Mathilda believes it is important that she and the others were invited. It also shows, she said, that young people have an idea of what is happening in the political sphere. They can play a part in shaping policies and follow what takes place in the Bundestag.

For Luca, the exhibition’s core message is: “We in Europe can achieve more if we stand together”.

The “European Competition”

The association “European Movement Germany” has organised the “European Competition” since 1953. Each year, children and young people are invited to engage with the subject of Europe in their art.

“The aim is to encourage children and young people to form an opinion on current events. This gives them an opportunity to participate directly in political processes,” explained Janine Hartmann, head of the “European Competition” project. Over the past year, around 75,000 school students took part in the competition; 47 of them now have the opportunity to exhibit their works of art at the Bundestag.

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