Europe is A Woman

An image of a destiny

, by Diletta Alese, Translated by Paola Lo Bue Oddo

All the versions of this article: [English] [italiano]

Europe is A Woman

A red thread of violence has always characterised Europe, ever since Titian’s 1560-1562 “Rape of Europa” painting up until today’s Europe. This distressing metaphor has cast its shadow on Europe throughout time, becoming a painful and immortal symbol. This article is not an analysis, but a crude and straightforward assessment of what seems to be our destiny. Unless we wish to change our destiny, things aren’t looking up.

May Claerhout’s “Statue Europe”, located behind the European Parliament in Brussels, demonstrates that Europe is indeed a woman. A tall, muscular woman with an imposing chest, stone eyes and olive skin adorned by thin veins. She is dirty, with torn clothes. Indeed, raucous men are angrily tugging at her clothes from all sides, tearing the fabric. Some men and women of a smaller stature are sobbing as they approach and surround her.

There are those who touch her, who try to possess her, who clean her, and who try to cover her up. There are those who try to amputate her limbs with huge knives while others jump in to act as a human shield. Meanwhile, she stands still, with a glazed look which seems to be lost in the sheer emptiness of time. A series of life events flow through her eyes: stories, insignificant greetings, drunken fools, visceral loves, incredible journeys, cursed wars, attacks, shipwrecks, silences.

A huge puddle lies beneath her feet, extending as far as the eye can see, blurred by a plethora of unlikely waves. The puddle feeds on ghostly cadences of bitter tears which sometimes flow out of her sockets. Some tiny men try to use her big feet as rafts- sometimes they manage to mount that human rock yet more often than not they are swallowed in the depths of the water. The woman stands upright painfully, clutching her sore belly, a hint of an ancestral violence which she has forgotten. Someone had wanted to define her through violence and force her into submission. She has internalised the memory and has become a living and silent testimony of that violence.

Let us reflect on the actual meaning of this. The woman is the European Union with her gaze fixed on a small Pontine island. The raucous men represent States. The smaller men are associations and parties. Those who want to amputate her limbs represent the nationalists and their allies, intent on destroying her fundamental values. ​Those who try to oppose the carnage are the Europeans, who rush to her aid unclothed - without any shields or weapons. The puddle is the Mediterranean, which is part of her. The very small men are the migrants, the poor, the young without a future, seeing as in the flow of history only tiny improvements are conceded to the latter and then they are soon forgotten. The ancestral violence is the sensation of Zeus severely mistreating her. She will always carry the two World Wars with her, an incessant pain in her womb.

A real being or not, she could have driven the warmongers away, given a home to her people, given a voice to the defenceless.

Yet she is nothing more than a mere reflection of a story without an end, and her future lies in our hands. As Simone Veil described, Europe will be what we can make of it.

Fonte immagine: JEF Belgium

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