What does it mean to be a European citizen? On 12 November 2020, this question ignited a high-level podium discussion taking in the perspectives of science, politics and the arts following an invitation by the research project REGIOPARL. The digital launch of the art installation "Outer Space Transmitter", conceptualized by artist and amateur radio operator Mona Schulzek, marked the occasion.
"To stay in dialogue with the population about the European Union’s development is currently more important than ever. The aim of the 'Outer Space Transmitter', created by Mona Schulzek, is to promote this dialogue and to encourage reflection through art", explained project manager Sarah Meyer, Danube University Krems, the motivations that led to the cooperation between the research project REGIOPARL and the artist. Subsequently to the art installation's presentation Prof Ireneusz Paweł Karolewski, University of Leipzig, hosted the discussion, in which State Secretary Mathias Weilandt, Saxon State Ministry of Justice and for Democracy, Europe and Equality, Prof Ulrike Guérot, Danube University Krems, Prof Gabriele Abels, Eberhard Karls University Tübingen, and Franciska Zólyom, Gallery for Contemporary Art Leipzig, addressed the area of tension that occur between the regions, nations and Europe. In particular, the various levels the concept of citizenship is based on, and how to add content to it in the future from a European perspective.
State Secretary Weilandt initially described being a European citizen as a feeling, distinguished from the rights and duties that lay within European citizenship. Then Ulrike Guérot posed the question in her introductory speech as to what a European citizen should actually be. At the same time, she derived a fundamental right of people in the EU from the answer to this question: "To develop and define the meaning of the concept of a European Citizenship is a central right of Europeans," said Guérot.
Levels of European citizenship
Gabriele Abels distinguished between economic, political and social citizenship in the academic perspective. Whereas economic and political citizenship is highly developed in the EU, social citizenship, being closely linked to the concept of equality, is rather weak at the European level, Abels noted. In her opinion, this raises the question of whether the EU treats citizens equally.
In view of the multiple exclusions on which closed identities are based, and against the background of worldwide migration, Franciska Zólyom explored the "right to have rights". "How can Europe be thought of in a respectful way of treating migrants who want to make use of this right in Europe rather than isolating them," asks Zólyom, highlighting the question of what responsibility human rights entail for the protection of the environment and the planet.
Science, politics and participation
REGIOPARL | Regional Parliaments Lab sees itself as a participatory and transdisciplinary project that highly values the dialogue between science, politics and art and wants to contribute to the ongoing debate on the future of the EU. Within the framework of the project, a call for proposals for an interactive art contribution in public space was issued, from which Mona Schulzek's "Outer Space Transmitter" was the winning project. Therefore, in the future, the artist and installation will accompany the REGIOPARL project team in Europe's regions. In doing so, an artistically mediated dialogue about Europe with citizens is added to the research on regional parliaments in the EU. The REGIOPARL research project is a collaboration between Danube University Krems and a number of international partners, and carried out in cooperation with Forum Morgen.
Kicking-off of a journey
The "Outer Space Transmitter" begins its journey in the German-speaking world to continue across various European regions. Find the dates for the upcoming stations on the websites:
Dr. Sarah Meyer