EAB annual poster 2023


An interview with the artist Yimeng Wu.
This year's poster for the European Academy Berlin was designed by the artist Yimeng Wu. In an interview, she revealed how she interpreted the work of the EAB and what she associates with the concepts of international understanding and encounter.

EAB: Ms. Wu, this year, the EAB collaborated with almost ten thousand people in over two hundred events, ranging from the history of the DDR environmental movement to charity events for the people in Ukraine and cleanup actions in Berlin neighborhoods. Often, even we struggle to keep track. Have you found a common thread?

Yimeng Wu: During my visit to the EAB, where I learned more about the diverse activities of your institution over the past 60 years, I took many keywords, scribbles, and notes, and the number of activities seemed truly endless... In conceptualizing the anniversary poster, the following levels crystallized into the guiding motif:

Europe & Berlin: The map of Europe in the background represents the spatial scope of the EAB with the Berlin bear symbolizing the capital. Arrows represent the dynamic projects emanating from the EAB, reaching into the European neighborhood and signifying "travel" to different European countries and regions.

Past, Present & Future: The starting point of the EAB began with the legendary Berlin visit of John F. Kennedy in its founding year of 1963. Significant milestones in history also included the signings of European treaties: Maastricht, Lisbon, Amsterdam. The image also includes highlights from 2023: Special Olympics, the use of VR media as a new means of expression, and a glimpse into the future of the institution.

The building of the Academy prominently features in your EAB poster for 2023. How important is personal encounter to you?

The wonderful EAB building is an important place for personal encounters. I was impressed by the architecturally interesting interlocking doors at the entrance, symbolizing an "open house" – both literally and figuratively fostering open exchange of ideas. The golden chandelier is a "celebratory" element for the anniversary. A good ambiance helps bring different people together and provides space for open discourse. Personally, respectful encounters on an equal footing are crucial, especially in intercultural dialogues, to break down prejudices, look beyond one's own perspective, and learn new things – all in the spirit of international understanding.

In your work, you juxtapose historical events with architectural elements and terms related to our work. These are often features of your pieces. What do you believe the juxtaposition and contrast can illustrate?

I find it fascinating that historical events did not occur in a vacuum, which can sometimes sound a bit abstract through the listing of dates in history books. They are always embedded in one or more places and connected in a specific time. Like a butterfly effect, events also bring about visible changes... The Academy building was created as a symbol for promoting the European idea between East and West, even during the Cold War – which ironically gains more relevance today. Ultimately, in civil society, it is individual people and in this case, your institution, with its many events in the field of political education, that act as "fertilizer" nurturing and keeping the garden of democracy alive through a diversity of topics that resonate with the pulse of our time.

Places of encounter and exchange are always looking for partners and networking. What is your advice for building stable networks?

The EAB is already expertly connected within and outside Europe through a large network that has grown over the decades... Personally, I find it exciting when you create a framework where different people can come together, engage in activities, and share passions rather than just talking to each other. For example, intercultural gardening or creating a creative work together. The political conditions in different countries may change depending on the global situation, but shared projects and interests can help maintain contact even in challenging times.

An even greater challenge is creating a respectful environment where you can engage in dialogue with people who, at first glance, hold contrary or extreme positions. This way, you can better understand what lies behind the facade and what motivates their opinion. I believe it is the only way for a constructive dialogue, offering the potential for real transformation in the best case scenario.

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