Ποιειν Και Πραττειν - create and do

How Europe is connected through Culture - Hatto Fischer


                                                                                      Valletta 5.9.2014


1. "How Europe is connected through culture - a possible contribution of ECoCs to a cultural synthesis"

Before considering and reflecting what such a topic entails, a brief introduction to my person might be appropriate since it was mentioned in Facebook announcing this conference that I come from Baveria. Yes, that is true.

I grew up in this house (see below) which still exists today. Located on the shores of Starnberg Lake outside of Munich and in the vicinity of the Alps, it meant spending my first seven years more in nature than inside an urban place. There I could see the coming of the car. It displaced the Romas with their horse drawn waggons and allowed people to spread out ever more till the earth was no longer unknown nature. Till then, and ever since the first cave paintings were created, people would project whatever they could imagine upon an unknown, equally a wild nature. It meant fear but also a rich imagination.

An abrupt difference was made in this world of mine by American soldiers who brought even into this quiet country site the after effects of war. They camped just below our house and gave us children food we had never seen before: chicken between white bread buns.

Naturally childhood memories can accompany you throughout your life, but it is something special if the location itself stays intact. It can contribute a lot to a continuity of identity. The latter is retained by memories of certain sounds. For example, when one stands with the back to the lake, it is possible to hear a special sound because the waves would wash ashore the pebbles and then take them back to the sea. This running up the shoreline and rolling back into the lake does creates a sound as if it was raining. The other sound is to take a stick and to run with it along the tarnished wooden fence. No one looked after me except my grandmother and so trees and a pond full of frogs became my closest friends. 

House in Seeheim                                                                             @hf 2013

Since so close to water, I suppose it explains my affinity to the sea and why I ended up living in Greece for the past 25 years. There is nothing like the Aegean Sea. The poet Zbigniew Herbert describes a sensation he experienced when taking a ferry boat from Pireaeus out to the island of Aegina. As the ship passes by some rocks coming out of the water as if whales or dolphins about to leap through the air, he experiences once again 'the birth of the earth'. Out of it emerges wonder due to having experienced something unexplainable. It is the source of inspiration for so many poets and thinkers in Ancient Greece.

Wonder derived out of such an intellectual experience gives access to a knowledge never easy to be explained to anyone. It sets the mind free. Rather than depart from a negative way of problematization, wonder motivates the mind to make inquiries on how the stars were created or how life on earth started. Wonder gives birth to rational thought. Based on open questions which can never be answered fully and therefore not satisfactorly, nevertheless it is crucial that mankind learns to live with these open questions. A closure of the mind would mean making the false claim of having found answers to these questions. Even if they cannot be answered, they need to be lived since life itself makes possible a deeper understanding of the questions linked to the realm of the unknown.

This novelty of life may explain as well the secret of the Mediterranean and why so many philosophers, writers, poets, like Borges consider this to be the birthplace of human culture. It is the birthplace of wonder and of a culture as the art to live with open questions like living beside the sea!



Starnberg Lake


View on way to Aegina


As to the topic itself, Europe is connected today in many ways, some key words for that can be Intercity trains but also such things as the Internet. There are as well networks. It is, however, more difficult to think of connections at the level of culture because it goes into the realm of the imagination.

When growing up, we might imagine of Paris something specific, especially if our parents referred to the Eifel tower or else we heard about Irma la Duce in Montmatre. London would become after reading Charles Dickens a place where poor boys would shine shoes in the streets of London. We could imagine as well Big Ben striking at the hour and everyone still thinking of Guy Fox who tried to burn down the Parliament.

For sure, Europe perceived through culture and more so the imaged Europe, that is a huge topic. There cannot be done justice to all these connections in just one presentation. So following the advise of my wife, Anna Arvanitaki, I shall focus closer on something which could be in the interests of the participants in this conference. It is related to the need to make an assessment of what has been so far the contribution of European Capitals of Culture to connect Europe through culture. To this could be added the question but what is meant when people generally say it has been one of the most successful projects of Europe to date?

Given the fact that European Capitals of Culture exist since 1985 when Athens became the first city to receive the designation of the title, it would be, however, equally foolish to try to cover such a vast question. For a valid answer it would require something on a much larger scale than a major research project. Definitely this has to be done sooner or later. For there is a need to know not only the legend of ECoCs but what cultural traces all these cities have left behind in order that people can connect with one another through culture and thereby connect as well with Europe. Consequently I wish to limit the scope of my presentation just a bit more.

I met Karsten Xuereb and the others of the V18 foundation when coming to Malta for the first time in April / May 2013. In having been involved with this project of European Capitals of Europe for many years now by collaboration among others with Spyros Mercouris, the brother of Melina, and in having created an archive of ECoCs, I am naturally interested in how Valletta shall prepare itself for 2018 when it will be its turn to be a European Capital of Culture.

So while discussing various aspects with Karsten Xuereb, a key theme emerged when wondering what political framework is in need of consolidation to allow a cultural synthesis to emerge. To underline this theme, Karsten Xuereb made the significant remark that "democracy is really about synthesis, and not about people leading their lives separately from each other while guaranteeing rights with no interaction and sense of community."

Consequently I would want to limit my talk on what contributions European Capitals of Culture have made to the creation of such a cultural synthesis which guarantees that democracy shall prevail in Europe?  

2. Picasso's Guernica

When wishing to speak about how people are connected through culture, it should not be forgotten that the arts are capable of connecting people. I cannot think of a better example than Picasso's Guernica especially in these days. Why this power? The mural painted in response to the bombing of Guernica in 1937, it means not to leave the many innocent people who died in silence. It is a painting which takes sides with these people who have to pay always the prize of war. Hence it sends a political message without being itself akin to any given political ideology. Rather it expresses the most intimate of all pains, namely the human pain often experienced when something precious to life is lost and the reason for this not at all clear, hence something unbelievable. The outcry can be at best a wounded scream.

3. Public truth - public space: between silence and dialogue

While in the 20th century the social relevance of the arts was questioned, today poets are asking themselves if they can change the world. A link or continuity can be traced by not only asking, but seeing how how relevant is Picasso's Guernica still today. One such answer can be seen onhand of a poster a demonstrator carries in New York in mid July 2014. Written on the poster above Picasso's Guernica is Guernica 1937 - Gaza 2014. That says it all!


                   Demonstrator in New York July 2014

That demonstrator in New York wishes to convey the same message as Picasso's Guernica: stop killing innocent people!

When looking at what is happening between Israel and Palestine, sub divided into the West Bank and Gaza, then we see two major axioms need to be followed, if democracy is to be sustained through a cultural synthesis: peace truth and public space. It is the philosopher Bart Verschaffel who draws attention to this need for both. Otherwise people will stay silent rather than enter dialogues with others, and not public truth but manipulation of information, in short public lie otherwise known as the practice of mendacity (Martin Jay), shall prevail. 

The failure of the peace talks in the Middle East can be explained in many ways but most surely if people are divided, the European concept of 'intercultural dialogue' used to advance culture as soft power in diplomacy will be but a construed excuse not to look at the reasons for these failures. A poet like Amir Or has tried through his poetry centre to foster such a delicate dialogue by letting poets from both sides translate poems into Hebrew and Arabic, and in order to be able to do that, each side had to assume a bit the role of the other to understand his or her special form of expression. It might be something the translation workshops taking place here in Valletta at the same time touched upon. In any case, the outcome of the most recent 50 day war between the Israeli Defense Force and the militants organized by Hamas in the Gaza strip were over 2000 Palestinians and 67 Israelis killed, many more wounded and nearly one third of the Gaza population displaced since over 70 000 houses destroyed. Yet these figures compare nothing as to what the people on the ground had to face and to suffer best depicted by a little girl in Gaza clutching not only her doll, but shutting the eyes of her doll so that at least she does not have to see all the horrific things happening around her.


A lot can be said about the ethics of seeing, but right now it is of importance that Amir Or in two poems interprets the situation as follows: since the barbarians (in reminder of Cavafy's poem 'Waiting for the Barbarians) are amongst us, there is no telling who is on whose side when it comes to decide what would be a way out of war and to peace? It makes being 'together' all that more difficult, so that in the absence of a cultural synthesis, mistrust prevails even when standing only at a bus stop and no one is sure who amongst those waiting may be carrying a bomb to blow up the bus. Lack of public truth means also no trust between individuals exists and therefore a sense of community has gone out the window, so to speak.

4. The failure of Intercultural Dialogue

After the last peace talks failed in the Middle East, and yet another round of violent conflict exploded to kill and wound still more innocent people, the desparation of people has reached a new level, qualitatively and consciously speaking. Already after the war between Israel and Lebanon, the outcry became: "Enough! We want to live." People are more than just exasperated by war. If they do not wish to talk about it anymore, then Marx gave one reason. He saw that people are only then ready to talk about problems if a solution has been found for them. Otherwise they consider every talk about them a waste of time.

Even when the second Intifada raged and an attempt was made in 2002 to initiate a dialogue, it became quickly clear that especially those on the Israeli side could no longer take any intellectual doubt about the position they take. They had to survive back then the suicide bombers.

Some reasons as to why the concept of an intercultural dialogue fails have been named by Frederique Chabaud in her letter:

- if the burdens of the past have never dealt with adequately, then the present shall always be overshadowed by them

- too many other forms of dialogues (talks, negotiations etc.) can be subsumed under this concept without clarity what it means in terms of conveying meaning and commitment through language

- any new round of diplomacy has the faults of diplomacy lacking knowledge of both sides as to what trust in a lasting commitment would mean, for people need not abstract formulas with no ramification for their daily life, insofar only liveable truths shall uphold in practice

- no new dialogue can be initiated, if people have made up already their mind due to seeing the developments on the ground and therefore they withdraw from any dialogue and bury any premise in silence

- if communication is reduced to symbols and images, then no dialogue shall take place as this requires the imagination for only then empathy makes possible understanding the needs and fears of the others.

In literature it is said the novel is dead. What about people still able to tell each other stories passed down from the ancestors? Arab philosophers developed the technique of the Kabela by retelling stories told to make them become more intelligent and full of hints, even hidden messages, on how to survive in a world full of gossips and rumours. Interestingly enough the Polish journalist Kapuscinski came while covering the turmoils in Ethiopia to the conclusion, the work of a journalist was impossible and so he switched to fictional stories to come closer with his imagination to what was taking place in reality.

Hence a sad state of affairs prevails, for when no longer true stories are being told and passed on, then people's mind are more than just confused. They become fixed to certain narratives even if reality would contradict them. It amounts to a denial of some obvious contradictions. Often this is due to being exposed to various types of propaganda which manages to use the social media and at the same time go beyond the simple notion of the media being the message. What it renders most of all useless is dialogue as a method of inquiry of what is the case. Instead the discoursive practice is replaced by symbolic statements aiming to confirm certain images as if reality can be encaptured by a symbol like a flag.

Whenever a willful distortion of the truth is aimed at, then to solicit support for a certain cause. While the Palestian side is till now not clear on the Right of the State of Israel to exist, Israelis themselves may through their constant reminder not to forget the Holocaust leave out the need to forget before any real redemption work can commence.

In short, if dialogue has to be based on a cultural synthesis which strengthens the power of the imagination so that reality is not taken as a given, but can be question, the understanding of the concept of culture becomes crucial. For that can affect how the present is seen, experienced and faced especially in terms of what challenges lie ahead. It would require at the very least that the past does not conspire with the future against the present.

5. Developments ahead in the 21st century - some parallel reflection 1914 - 1918 / 2014 - 2018



                         Loyalist wall mural linked to WWI in Belfast       @hf 2009

Valletta has four years ahead to prepare for being European Capital of Culture in 2018. Interestingly enough, this time period ahead runs parallel, retrospectively speaking, to First World War which took place from 1914 until 1918. By suggesting the term 'parallel action', it may remind of Robert Musil who used to describe developments in Eastern Europe after the collapse of the Habsburg entity and before Second World War erupted. Thus some links can be imagined, others are more real, between events and actions aiming to remember First World War and Valletta having to work out a concrete cultural programme in terms of its original bid.

History can be present in a strange way. When walking through the Loyalist quarter in Belfast, I came upon a wall mural which depicted Irish soldiers fighting under the Union Jack on the fields of First World War. Immediately the term Loyalist made sense for it means not only the wish to keep the British Crown present in Northern Ireland, but also since WWI a willingness to use violence to advance the cause of the Crown regardless the reasons for having entered that war in the first place. Likewise the IRA glorifies violence as it was the force by which they revolted against British rule and a part of Ireland managed to emancipate itself. On both sides violence is perceived as something positive; in the one case, as a sign of loyalty, on the other, as revolutionary force. But both sides do not realize how much this puts them at odds with the rest of Europe, for the experience of violence incurred during First World War was horrific. 

This terrible experience was reaccounted by Paul Klee who said the First World War had destroyed all beauty and thus if he wishes to paint something beautiful, then he could only do it out of memory of previous to the war experienced beauty and therefore this expression would by necessity be abstract. He proved Worringer's thesis of 'Abstraction and Empathy' has some validity insofar as this would mark the developments of the arts in the 20th century. Out of this can be posed a similar question, but what shall mark the 21st century?

The Indian poet K. Satchidanandan (Indian poet writing in Malayalam) stated for the Poetry Reading "In Search of Peace" held in Marsaxlook, 7.9.2014:

"Albert Camus once said that the central problem of the twentieth century was suicide. I am afraid that this was the central problem of the twentieth century and not of the twenty first century which is homicide or genocide. I mean by this the massive destruction of life and the worsening of conditions of life by various forces that promote violence of all sorts. It makes the ideal of peace more and more unrealisable. Global imperialism, predatory capitalism, religious fundamentalism, jingoistic nationalism, patriarchal domination, hierarchies of caste and class and race, irrational terrorism, have all contributed to this escalation of violence in our time. These outbursts we find happen today in all nations."

Linked to that can be made some worrisome observations with regards to Europe, insofar as xenophobic and self-assertive forces are relating to Fascist models and symbols, even though they often deny of having something to do with such a political method used by Fascists to replace any other party and determine the state apparatus all by themselves.

While First World War was still a traditional war in many ways even though Andre Malraux described the impact of the first use of a weapon of mass destruction, namely gas. Nowadays violence is more invisible such as a drone attack being steered by a computer expert located in the United States while the strike is in Pakistan. People seem not to have any cultural tool against such new use of lethal weapons in what is called an asymmetrical war. The latter is shaped by attacks like 911 when two planes crashed into the Twin Towers or by Hamas militants deploying themselves through tunnels dug to go even under the border curtailed by the Israeli Defense Force. However, ISIS is said to be well organized. When they take over a territory, then an administrative staff is put immediately into place to regulate everything the population depends upon: water, electricity, oil and food supplies. Since in war motivation plays always a crucial role, there is a need to re-examine what a belief can do especially to young men once indoctrinated in a certain way which drives them to the brink of society, and once made desparate, can be radicalized in a perverse way as they believe no longer in anything.

Collective memory works at times in a very strange way. Things resurface long forgotten, while at the same time the promise of Europe never again war has not only meant a period of unknown, equally relative peace since 1945, but which seems to be increasingly jeopardized by ongoing violent clashes, civil turmoils, and even military confrontations as is now the case in Eastern Ukraine.

More so, ever since the Greek state nearly defaulted along with other Southern states like Spain, Portugal and even Italy due to an accumulated debt which could no longer be sustained, especially the younger generation feels and experiences the fall out of an economic war. They are not only exposed to unemployment but in that void of nothingsness a new type of nihilism seems to spreading till young people are prepared to go to conflict zones in order to join whatever war there may be waging. If anything, it reminds of the lecture Karl Jaspars gave about the chances of a new humanness in 1951. For he draws lessons out of the failure to halt Fascism from seizing power in both Italy and Germany, and then plunging the world into a war which left many cities destroyed and a Holocaust posing the question if there is in culture also something inherent evil. It became clear to the post war generations that the Second World War could not be understood without understanding the First World War. 

So going back to the time before the European Union was formed practically out of the ashes of Two World Wars, it can said that they were definitely caused by a kind of Nationalism which displaced universal truth. When the Social Democrats voted in Germany in favour of the war credits to make Germany's entry into the war possible, it was a turning away from the concept of international solidarity in the ears of everyone ever since the French Revolution had made out of a local patriot a world citizen. This type of Nationalism meant no common human bondage worked in favour of preserving peace.

Bismarck had already used war in 1871 as a deliberate tool to unify Germany under Prussian rule. There was still human bondage as shown in the film 'Jule and Jim' about three students, two French with one a female who ended up marrying the other, a German student. They could not prevent First World War, and thus after a joint study at Sorbonne the two male students ended up at the other side of the trenches and fighting each other. It was absurd. People would still write letters to each other although officially they were supposed to be enemies. Yet the memories of the common time as student upheld some connection to the other side. That human bondage was still evident when Albert Camus wrote his famous letter to his German friends before going underground to fight German occupation in Second World War. Yet by the time Europe entered Second World War, relationships had become by far more abstract with even less empathy for the others given a fervent Nationalism which turned into Fascism. The latter revealed itself as a most vicious, equally anti human force.

Thomas Mann in 'Magic Mountain' says many went into First World War to get away from boredom which they experienced when sitting behind desks in some boring office. By contrast war was perceived as an adventure into which many gladly went. Yet after the war in the trenches went badly wrong, and thousands upon thousands lost their lives, Andre Breton remarks how soldiers returning from the front were not dismissed but forced to keep their uniform on. The reason for that order was to prevent them from participating in political rallies since many of the troops were enraged over the bad and harmful decisions of the generals. There was a deliberate attempt to silence people with the intention not to let the truth about the First World War come out.

The problem with the displacement of an universal truth which holds to all people is linked to the problem with Romanticism. Often freedom fighters had the noble cause of the sovereignty of the nation in mind, but they forgot that such a readiness to fight for the freedom of the own nation meant at the same time a loss of love for humanity, or for the other. The question remains to date, if the other is an enemy or can be a friend?

In First World War some saw already what potential technology has to gain power over the masses of people, it meant also an unknown scale of destruction of nature. In the 21st century marked by climate change and huge environmental risks revealed by the Fukushima disaster in 2011 after a Tsunami Wave hit the nuclear power station, there has to be added something else. The ratio between known and unknown world has clearly shifted in direction of the supposedly known with Google making possible a mapping of the most remote corners of the world.

What the automatic connection through planes, Internet and other forms of fast communication has produced is a real loss of togetherness of people. Lacking in libido and human solidarity to one another, people can easily panic. The flee in many ways the moment some trouble arises. Parents in the United States believe the entire city of Athens is burning and therefore they want to call back their children studying at the time in Greece when demonstrations dominated the headlines. There is a tendency towards over exaggeration of dangers while no one seems to bother to go there and inform oneself directly with own eyes. The general perception of a country like Israel can be disputed by Mieke Bal who in her documentary shows quite another side. So missing out on many things, there seems no way to really validate what is happening in reality.

One more thing is happening and which Gerhard Zwerenz coins as the 'lost generation'. It is linked to a conspiracy against truth which makes everyone comply in the end to accept and to live according to the noble lie.

 6. What is amiss in Europe?


When Karsten Xuereb was so kind as to invite me to this conference, that was seven months ago. Europe at that time was going through a debate about its future, and this in anticipation of how the European elections would go come May 25th 2014. Some saw a break-up of Europe, others predicted Europe will be if at all united, then through hatred directed especially against the migrant as the figure of the 21st century. It reminds what Adorno and Horkheimer predicted in 1944, that is one year prior to the ending of Second World War. They stated even when Fascism has been defeated, there shall be still the xenophobic forces in need to deal with. Thus thinking about how to cover Europe, European Union and the role fulfilled by European Capitals of Culture in this evolving history, I decided to make an assessment according to five crucial questions:

- What are stories all about?

- What stories are not being told about the European Union?

- European Capitals of Culture are remembered by what stories?

- Can stories tell how Europe is connected through what culture?

- When do stories reflect a cultural synthesis in the making?


7. Small city - big dreams


            Stairs in Valletta                                                       @hf 2013

The Story of the magic violin was told to me by a Dutch artist whose father was a theologian who gave lectures after the war about the 'ethics of seeing'. No wonder that she would say as the artist she was: "I draw what I see."

Vincent Van Gogh wrote in his letters to his brother Theo also about the law of proportionality is being one of the greatest tasks of the arts to observe. Still, when making a point in a story, we tend to over exaggerate, distort a bit, leave out other things. Some things trail behind while other items of the story have rushed so far ahead that they can hardly be made anymore in the road ahead. In the case of Dali, it went too the extreme and Surrealism became the method of paranoia par excellance.

To return back to the conference 'small city - big dreams', it reminds of children who overcome all sorts of obstacles by reducing the physical fact in comparison to their imaged reality. Likewise when we return to the house where we grew up in, it turns out to be much smaller or larger than what had settled in, that is in their memories after having become adults. Naturally there is another world when looking at it through the other end of the telescope so that things in reverse become parts of Alice in the Looking Glass.

8. European Union

Another gate way in Brussels - that photo may show a feature of Brussels not usually shown by the media when they point the camera towards the buildings where the European Commission has its seat.

But apart from the usual stories starting with 'those in Brussels', there is one story about the European Union which is a variation of George Orwell's 'Animal Farm'. That story is known as the animals seeking equality and thus stage a successful revolt against their rulers: the adults. In their new entity, they established the rule that all animals are equal. Only there was added a crucial qualification, namely except for the pigs. They had trained dogs to gain power. Everyone of the animals complied. Likewise the European Union can be captured in the following two liner: all citizens are equal safe for the member states. It is not an union of citizens but an institutional arrangement by which member states get along with each others on the basis of treaties.

President Barrosso stated that Europe needs a new narrative when the crisis started to test the capacity of the EU institutions to sustain 'business as usual', even if Greece, for example, was at the brink of a state default. A lot has happened since 2008 with the main criticism being the state of the European Union suffers under a severe austerity policy driven by Neo-Liberalism which subordinates everything else to the 'economic value'. The question remains to be answered 'economic value' of what?

Two stories about Brussels: cracking the code and policy knowledge
Distinction between story and propaganda


9. European Capitals of Culture 


Capitals of Culture started in Athens 1985 with Melina Mercouri and the story about a most expensive kiss

Change in paradigm / Bob Palmer
No continuity of former, current and future EcoCs
What about the term 'capital' in the title?


10. Culture is theory

Clarification of term 'culture' – Politismos / story of deconstructivism
Technology no longer a means but theory of society since 1914-18
Theory is practice since Aristotle: teleos and practical wisdom
Culture is a search for truth, not a probability
Challenge: Humanness and non violence of ethical being


11. Cultural synthesis

"Poetry has got a great gift to make a synthesis which brings the human feelings, (the good and the bad ones) the nearest possible to the truth. Poetry has the rare chance (as well as music) to communicate what is “unspeakable”, that impossibility to say the “real”, because this “unspeakable real” has no words to be said, because it inhabits itself the “real.” Poetic writing gives the chance to translate that “real”, called in this world nowadays “trauma,” out of what has become silence: the silence of abused women all over the world, the silence of abused children, the silence of those abused 'People of The Abyss.'"

                                                                       - Anna Lombardo


Nabokov and street car - telling a story by synthesizing while continuing
Schizophrenia of peace - here the disco, there the bomb going up - terms of reality
Voices of markets and post colonialism / Orient - Waqas Khwaja
Below and above cutting edge of success / crisis + discrimination
Bottom up / top down / setting European terms
Instead of war, peace through aesthetics of resistance and memory - can poetry change the world by contributing to getting out of 'silence'


12. Vincent van Gogh









13. Displacement of the concept of culture


                Patrizia Grazia and Bob Scott              @hf Brussels 2010

Re-visiting ECoCs:

EU: cultural competence, cultural consensus, subsidarity principle
Myth of paradigm change urban renewal since Bob Palmer

Bob Palmer                                   @hf 2010
national representation, no border city, media is the message: Europe dimension
Cultural industries / Culture and economy / creativity
Marseille 2013 / culture of discrimination
Spin doctor reports: culture and propaganda


14. ECoC contributions to connecting Europe through culture


Dance group of

Paul Blackman and Christine Gouzelis

with their piece "Vicious Cycle"

artistic director - concept - use of what categories / not ruin the reputation of the artist
Steering the creative process
Strategy: local/national - European framework
Investment in culture - the term 'infrastructure' but what about culture as work of memory and therefore the need to recognize what real work is being done / most of the work goes not only unrecognized but is not paid with all the implications that has for the criterion of 'success'.
Art of bringing together people and artists - audiences
Sustaining criticism - free art sector and formal institutional set-ups - legitimacy in the arts and what does it mean to grant to everyone the Right to unfold his or her creative self?
Stories to remember - requires two things: real stories and people who listen e.g. Kenneth Loach and his film 'Kes', or is it a wrong impression as to what made upon us a deep impact when hearing about the Robbers of Liang Schan Moor? For stories indicate to humanity that there are more than just things to learn at school or what Louis Armstrong would sing, 'but that you don't learn at school!' The aspect of informal learning has been translated into Life Long Learning but which Ana Magraner transformed into Life Long Love.


15.Cultural measures for the tasks ahead Valletta 2018 faces


Most difficult is the realization of a just society, but this allows for a creation of just measures for the task ahead to realize that. The laws needed to prevent those who are already rich and powerful to become even more rich and more powerful. Inequality is not only a matter of having social status in society or not, but also what resources are accessible to uphold such a status, even the mask of being civilized when in reality quite other things matter.

Give a voice to those not heard and resolve the equality question
Moral legitimacy of EU Institutions and constitution/treaty
Cultural policy knowledge
Leave traces to tell stories when 18


16. Kids' Guernica and Guernica Youth 


Leave traces so that you can tell a story to find your own identity. Coming back to the beginning and needing only so much home as one does not need it since the world is the home defined as the memories others have of you.


17. Institute of ECoC and Archive


Since Bob Palmer stresses the need for any ECoC to leave behind a 'legend', translated into practical terms, it means literally what enters the archive to show what traces a Cultural Capital of Culture has left behind. By traces are meant the stories people tell one another as to what happened during that decisive year. Some researchers go even so far and call it nowadays the 'psyche income', a term which used to mean the experiences made while the city linked itself to ongoing changes in Europe and the world. At lot has been made of this need to include not merely the European, but also the global dimension but if understood as a shift in territorial diplomacy (Ferdinand Richard, Karsten Xuereb), then it has to be spelled out what this implies, democratically speaking. For there is the risk to become self-orientated, that the connectivity to people through culture is neglected by not reflecting what particular concept of culture is being promoted when used for economic purpose, for urban renewal, for re-branding the image the city had till then e.g. Liverpool before 2008 as ugly port and now a thriving conference centre. If culture means a shift in focus to affect perception of the city, then likewise it would mean entering an interesting dialogue between locals and visitors as to what amounts to making use of the cultural resources available over time in a city like Valletta.

When the ECCM network existed, there was an effort to link former, current and future ECoCs together, and in order to facilitate this learning process, there was first initiated by Spyros Mercouris an exhibition "20 years of history" shown first in Patras 2006 and which formed the core of the exhibition "25 years" when this European project was celebrated in Brussels in 2010. The online exhibition created by "heritageradio" of the Intrreg III B - Cadses HERMES project which accompanied the exhibition curated by Spyros Mercouris gave birth to the idea of creating an archive. It led to the opening of the Documentation Centre in Athens but which existed only from 2007 until 2009.

All along Poiein kai Prattein has maintained an archive in an effort to uphold this continuity of learning. It can be found at:


lf culture is work with memory, then consistency over time can only be gained by remembering things done, yet culture is recognition and documentation is selective. That is in need to be understood still further.

Hatto Fischer

Valletta 5.September 2014

Note: this presentation is based on a more extensive manuscript to found at:

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