Work of art for Germany’s Council Presidency gives children a voice: Foreign Minister Heiko Maas meets with Olafur Eliasson

30.03.2020 - Press release

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas met with artist Olafur Eliasson today to talk about the work of art he is producing for Germany’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union. The artist considers it to be a coproduction between him and children throughout Europe. The project gives young people an opportunity to make their voices heard and to present their solutions for the future of our planet beyond national borders.

“Together with children and young people, I want to start a conversation across the EU about the future of our planet – children are experts,” Eliasson emphasised. “It is high time for us to engage with them and to be inspired by their powerful imagination. We should truly listen to and learn from them. The work of art is being co-developed and designed by all of the young participants on a special digital platform. Through this project, their ideas are being communicated to the grown-ups – today’s decision-makers – with the aim of promoting cooperation and a cross-generational dialogue on good planetary stewardship. Our present is their future.”

The future, promotion of young people and strengthening of the European public sphere are top priorities of the cultural programme of the German Presidency. Innovative formats like Eliasson’s work of art will significantly shape the programme for the Presidency. Particularly at the current time, which is dominated by the coronavirus and Covid-19, digital platforms that help overcome physical distance have become key instruments for human interaction.

Foreign Minister Maas commented on this today (30 March):

Never has the need to talk about Europe’s future been more urgent than today. And the young women and men of Europe most strongly embody this future. During our Presidency, we want to give the next generation a louder voice. We want to listen to young people, spread their ideas throughout Europe, our common home, and seriously engage with their desires, criticism and visions for a just future that is worth living in.

With Olafur Eliasson’s work of art, we are creating a digital space in which young people can exchange ideas, argue and collaborate. Especially right now, we must overcome physical distance through cultural proximity and promote personal encounters in the digital realm. That is exactly what Olafur Eliasson’s work of art stands for – bringing people together, despite their physical separation, in a shared digital cultural space and letting their voices be heard.

In October 2019, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas commissioned Danish-Icelandic artist Eliasson with the production of a work of art for Germany’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union. The cultural programme of the German Presidency brings to the fore the issues of shared ownership, art in the digital sphere and sustainability. The Goethe-Institut is supporting the project’s implementation.


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