Last year, while watching the latest Eurovision Song Contest, I couldn't stop wondering why, for so many people, it is the most important manifestation of European identity. The contest is extremely popular even in the UK, a country that is looking askance at every word beginning with a Euro suffix.
However, it is quite difficult to think that an event of doubtful artistic value can remain the highest representation of European popular culture. In fact, it is not. European culture is all around us; we are Europe. Just think of the Beatles. They are British, that’s for sure. But they also spent a part of their life playing in Germany, and French culture had an enormous impact on them. Therefore, defining them as British only would be quite reductive.
From this point of view, EuropeanIcons is a remarkable, albeit ambitious initiative. It aims to identify and celebrate our own continental legends established after the Second World War in a top 100 of the most iconic of European personalities, objects, events and artefacts. To compile this top, Wilfried Rimensberger, the initiator of EuropeanIcons, has been asking professionals in the fields of arts, politics, education, journalism, and culture from EU's 28 member states for their nominations. Of all the nominations made, the finalists will be chosen by popular vote on a designated website. This means Europeans from across the continent will have the chance to cast their vote and choose the most important icons of Europe. Can we consider the TGV, the Vespa motorbike, the fall of the Berlin Wall and others as icons of the whole continent in addition to their original countries? Are we so sure that there isn’t something European in each of them? Let’s ask the people of Europe and see what they think about it!
EuropeanIcons is still in its early stages, and this is only the beginning of an exciting adventure. The concept of EuropeanIcons will be kept alive and current through books, TV formats, exhibition events and an annual European Icon award live show. Westminster City Council in London has already proposed to become the host of the first awards ceremony, and the leaders of the project are currently in talks with publishers for the release of the "Top100 EuropeanIcons" book in five languages.
Are you inspired by this project? Would you like to get involved in taking this initiative to the next stage? Do you have a nomination to make? Then please get in touch with Wilfried at Rimensbergerw@gmail.com.
Edited by: Andreea Anastasiu