Where is Europe ?

"Europe Squares" is an art research and intervention project ongoing since 2002 that explores the relations between the symbolic values and the concrete urban situations of squares named "Europe Square", in and outside Europe. The project stands for a pluralistic understanding of Europe. It sees the cities as the sites that synthesize the many contradictory ideas and models of Europe

Europaplatz (Recht sprechen)

Intervention in the city of Karlsruhe

Europaplatz (Recht sprechen) is an artistic intervention by Yves Mettler in public space on narratives about Europe. As a commissioned work especially for the Europe Day 2023 in Karlsruhe, the artist explores ideas and conceptions of Europe together with the French EU lawyer and researcher Antoine Bailleux on the basis of concrete court rulings of the European Court of Justice. In their research, they start from the assumption that every case law conveys a variety of European narratives, or entails new ideas for Europe: from the social to the green Europe, the Europe of civil and human rights or, conversely, Fortress Europe. With the jurisprudence, the narratives evolve, complement, but also come to contradict each other. Through dialogues exploring a set of cases, six podcasts show that Europe is not a set framework, but a living construct.

The podcasts were available through QR codes on stations placed on specific public squares related to the topics involved in the court cases. They are now archived online in German and French.

A project produced by the Centre Culturel Franco-Allemand, Karlsruhe, in partnership with Stiftung Forum Recht
With the kind support of: Pro Helvetia, SWR Studio Karlsruhe, Staatsministerium Baden-Württemberg

The texts are published in the third volume of the research project Les récits judiciaires de l'Europe, Diffusion, réception et coproduction, Bruylant, 2023.

Europaplatz (CampusVäre)


The initiative CampusVäre in charge of the creative development of a former industrial site in Dornbirn AT invited me to introduce European perspectives that could enrich the visions for the future of the site.

Through free lunchs for the workers, students and passer-bys, interviews and the launch of the first "Fête de la musique" on June 21st 2022, organized together with the student's organisation of the University of Applied Science Vorarlberg, the question of what space youth takes in a city emerged and got discussed.

In cooperation with Europe Direct Vorarlberg. Pictures by Kristin Toedtling and Marina Schedler

Bancbigny (installation)

You Promised me a City, Hannover

You Promised Me a City was a three day multi-format conference initiated by the interdisciplinary urban planning studio endboss about how conflicts, disputes, misunderstandings and dissonance are integral part of urban development.

“Bancbigny (installation)” presents the chapter from Atlas Europe Square on the intervention in Bobigny as an immersive installation, feeding the discussions that took place over the three days. The chapter (pdf 25mb) was co-written with sociologist Laurent Thévenot. The format is closer to a theater piece than an to an essay, exploring the multiple ways people as well as invisible forces participate in the construction of the benches. This allows the emergence of the question of violence, inscribed in the urban public space as much as in the art project.

The first picture is by Marvin Letmade and David Troost, second by Alex Schuktuew.

Atlas Europe Square

Urbanomic, September 2021

If the built environment is a record of our modes of organisation and the compromises we make in order to live together, then what are we to make of the plethora of Europe Squares, Europa Places, Places de l’Europe, and Europaplatzes? Public spaces that connect numerous disparate towns and cities through a ‘supersite’ called Europe, today they may appear as avatars of an idea in crisis, as ‘eurocentric values’ and the concept of Europe as a unified political space are attacked and eroded from all sides.

Atlas Europe Square documents a body of work by Swiss artist Yves Mettler who, since 2003, has engaged in an ongoing mapping and documentation of these sites, along with a series of projects triangulating between particular squares, interrogating their differing architectural, environmental, and public functions, and what they tell us about the ideality of ‘Europe’ and the (im)possibility of its concrete instantiation.

Alongside extensive photographic documentation, Atlas Europe Square contains writings and reflections by the artist alongside texts by Reza Negarestani, Teresa Pullano, Laurent Thévenot, and Stephen Zepke, discussing Mettler’s work and addressing the question of how to square ‘Europe’ with the contemporary complex that connects the city to the nation state and the global economy.

Designed by Dualroom, the book has been printed using a three-colour process with solid Red, Yellow, and Blue inks, with the photographic reproductions translated from CMYK using a colour profile provided by colorlibrary, ECAL, Lausanne.

Published by Urbanomic and designed by Dualroom, the book has been printed using a three-colour process with solid Red, Yellow, and Blue inks, with the photographic reproductions translated from CMYK using a colour profile provided by colorlibrary, ECAL, Lausanne.

With the support of Pro Helvetia, Erna und Curt Burgauer Stiftung, Canton de Vaud and GIT Torino. Pictures: Artur Tixiliski

Die Europaplätze in Hohenems

Participative intervention in the public space, in collaboration with the Jüdisches Museum Hohenems, June-October 2021.

There are Europe Squares in many cities. They embody connections and political commitments to Europe. Do you know a place in Hohenems that you associate with Europe?

Following up on the current exhibition "The Last Europeans" in the Jüdisches Museum Hohenems, he confronts twelve project groups from Hohenems with the question of possible Europe Squares in the city. The artist makes their various stories visible by setting up twelve redesigned construction site signs in the urban space. They mark the temporary Europe Squares in Hohenems in the colors and languages of Europe.
Pictures: Land Vorarlberg/Alexandra Serra

Europaplatz (Zelt) & The Mayor's Episodes

"Vienna Transit", groupshow curated by Wolgang Kos, Georg Kargl Fine Arts, Vienna

The pimped barriers take a new metaphorical form, the tent. They remind of the temporary shelter, echoing Europe's contemporary challenge towards the "others", but also its weaker citizens. It also quotes a public artwork that disappeared from Vienna's memory: A kind of tunnel on the viennese Europaplatz that vanished in the wake of the construction of the extension of the main station. In the background, three compositions tell about the visits of the mayor in the cities of Vienna, Mulhouse (F) and La Spezia (IT), all following the call of the European Council in 1958.
Photo: Matthias Bildstein, courtesy Georg Kargl, Wien

"Am Rand von EuropaCity"

Event series organized together with Alexis Hyman Wolff and Achim Lengerer/Scriptings

This project, consisting of walks, listening sessions, poster campaigns and a mini-festival, is about the future cultural life in the Europe city but also about how the construction of that new city part already affects the existing neighbourhoods. Website of the project: www.amrandvoneuropa.city. More about the project (in German) here. With the support of the Berlin Senat für Kultur und Europa.
A publication in the series "Berliner Hefte zu Geschichte und Gegenwart der Stadt" has been in Septmember 2022.
Photo: Philipp Külker

The Mayor, the Numbers and the Midi

"Europe: In the Search of new Narratives", Bozar, Brussels

The room provides several works as entry points about urban spaces called Europe Square. The works explore the way a concrete (urban, public) space can be connected to the (symbolic, abstract, distant) space made and named Europe. Modified barriers for working sites and beer crates from all over Europe serve as basic furniture. A surplus suggest a further extension or modification of the space. The table provides satellites views and a series of statistics of over 250 Europe Squares, freely browsable by the public. While the data is available, the question rises of who is enabled of making concrete use of them. An assemblage of original postcards & photos provide a thematic mapping of the relation of cities and european thematics. A fictive report mayor gone missing after searching for the ideal Europe Square provides a narrative structure. At the end of the room a double videoslideshow shows the local Europe Square of Brussels. The slideshow asks the viewer to recall his own memory of the square. While one monitor concentrates on the cycle of the weekly market, the other one reports on the physical features of the square, thus marking the rythmic complementarity of the empty square and its weekly occupation.


Performance with audio-guide, Place de l'Europe, Lausanne

Audio-guide for a fictional visit of Europe square in two other cities, Bobigny and Berlin. Using the genre of Science-fiction, the audio-guide teleports the listener to the other city square and describes it, anchoring it onto details of the actual square, activating the listeners imaginary.

Piazza Europa (Gallarate)

Installation with displaced and repurposed urban furniture
Groupshow "Voglio vedere le mie montagne", curated by Noah Stolz, MAGA, Gallarate, Italy

Unused concrete flowerbeds from the rooftop of the parking building occupying Gallarate’s Europe Square are repurposed to equip the empty area in front of the museum with seating and sandboxes. A roughly built viewing platform with concrete blocks formed in the flowerbeds, gives a view onto the rearranged square. On the platform one can listen to the maosnry, about good and bad concrete casting, and look at postcards of the Europe Square

Place de l'Europe (Table)

L'Europe en Devenir, Partie 1, Centre Culturel Suisse, Paris

building site barriers repurposed and assembled for multiple functionalities, here as a table in an exhibition.