Showcasing the inclusiveness of European Identity

On 18 June, the project Crossed Paths of Europe held its first photo exhibition at IM Sweden headquarters in Stockholm in the framework of the IM’s summer festival.

IM Sweden is an organisation that works on bringing forward and empowering people who are excluded from society. The association organises a summer festival annually to celebrate with its members their engagement and raise awareness about its work providing workshops and different activities.

In this context, the two-hour exhibition organised by Crossed Paths of Europe showcased 60 photos, coming from 10 different European countries and taken by some 20 people who volunteered for the project. The photos were divided into groups and hung on the walls in different rooms of the IM’s office. The groups of pictures were selected with the aim of showcasing at least 5 different countries and volunteers on every wall to compare them and invite the public to trace similarities and differences.

People attending the exposition at the IM’s headquarters in Stockholm

Team member Kawthar Karout presented the project to the 80 attendees who raised several questions about the volunteers and the photos they had taken. These questions fostered the discussion on the meaning of European identity and sparked a debate on how Europe could be perceived differently according to the countries and the personal background.

For instance, two pictures that received particular attention from the public were taken by two volunteers, one from the United Kingdom and the other from Germany, which looked so alike that participants thought they were taken by the same person. The similarity shown by the photos encouraged participants to discuss convergence in what people consider beautiful, in what people value and what they identify themselves with but especially pointed out the project’s purpose to prove the inclusiveness of European identity.
Another interesting photo which raise attention was the one with a strawberry which was perceived by the attendees as a typical Swedish image and thus taken by a Swedish national while the photographer had instead a migration background.

Some of the pictures showcased during the exposition

Outcome

The first photo exhibition of the project Crossed Paths of Europe prompted interesting discussions between attendees about the meaning of European identity. The exhibition, displaying similar yet different photos of people and places from different countries, widened people’s view on European identity beyond the person’s background, physical appearance or accent. ‘We are more similar than we know’ is a conclusion that many of the attendees came to.

The exhibitions’ and workshops’ results will be presented during the FutureLab Europe Autumn Conference on the 24th of September in Brussels.

Do you have questions or comments on the project?

Contact us at crossedpathsofeurope@gmail.com

This event is part of FutureLab Europe’s Crossed Paths of Europe project.

About Crossed Paths of Europe

Crossed Paths of Europe is a project aimed at exploring the concept of European identity by inviting refugees and long-term members of the local community to take photos focusing on two main themes: how they see Europe and the things that are important to them. What does Europe mean for locals? What does it mean for refugees? How far apart are these two visions?