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Opening Speech
Daphne Springhorn

Daphne Springhorn
Foto: Moa Karlberg/Goethe-Institut

This exhibition is not only about history, it is about our present and about our future. 

Dear Excellencies, dear ladies and gentlemen, dear Guests,
I am honored beyond words to convey to tell you something about the genesis and the purpose of this exhibition, “Europe –Heritage of Humanism” - being the core of a series of activities called:  “Reloaded! European Values”.

My name is Daphne Springhorn. I am the cultural programmer at the Goethe-Institute Stockholm - which made the decision to bring this exhibition to Sweden - in collaboration with EUNIC Stockholm.

I would like to thank the Embassies of Romania and of the Czech Republic to host a reception for EUNIC Stockholm, thus helping us to bring forward European Values. This event is nicely synchronized with the upcoming of the European Elections. I also want to thank our the EU-commission Stockholm as our important partner in this cooperation, and especially its team, Ana Minda, Lena Olofsson-Piras and Alena Zakarava for their enthusiastic support to make this exhibition possible.  

This exhibition is not only about history, it is about our present and about our future. Please, let me explain.

It was curated 2015 at the University of Vienna and the Austrian Academy of Science in cooperation with other European Universities, within a network called EUROPA HUMANISTICA. Only thanks to EUNIC Austria it was produced and shown in Vienna and in Berlin. EUNIC is a network of European national institutes of culture and national bodies engaged in cultural activities
beyond their national borders.
This exhibition is about what contributed to the mentalité collective of Europe before the existence of national borders

In fact, Europe is a set of assumptions, a mindset. As such, it may serve as an antidote against the closing of the European mind. It began as a myth, with the abduction of a woman, Europe. Today, dear guests, I want to retell the entire myth. My daughters and I hope you will bring your daughters too, of course. And the message is: Europe was not raped at all. The clever princess Europe had only choosen the strongest and most handsome bull for a ride, and when they paused, the bull turned magically into a stunningly attractive man with his eyes reflecting intelligence and humor. So she decided he would make a decent genitor for her offspring. 

Much later, Europe developed into a lifestyle, with a sense of belonging to a common civilization. A mentalité collective which emerged directly through the process of civilization, the seeds of philosophy and democracy in ancient Greece, the tradition of Roman law and Judeo-Christian belief, ultimately unfolding in secular culture with the beginning of the Age of Enlightenment.
Especially during the era of Renaissance ideas and values which today are referred to as “European values” evolved all over Europe and beyond: such as the dignity of the every human person (independent of gender, age, race and religion), individual liberty, everyone’s equal value, the rule of law, democracy, the separation of state and church, and critical thinking.

Please have a close look at this map, please read at the top of each biography, you will see how deeply the European humanists were connected with and to each other. They wrote each other letters, and they travelled widely. They studies seriously. The exchange of knowledge flourished. When scholars from Transylvania studied abroad, for example, every single one of them was obliged to bring back a book for the Transylvanian libraries.
Here in this exhibition you will not only find well-known thinkers like Thomas Morus or Erasmus of Rotterdam. The exhibition features also less renowned and female voices, often operating in the shadow of their contemporaries.

All of them have shaped today’s Europe.
This exhibition presents protagonists of humanism from 20 European countries. Having said that of course we all know that at their time nations, nation states and passports did yet exist at all. There were far more humanists and more places of origin contributing to our joint heritage which we call today European values.
 
The selection you see was made possible by the network of EUNIC Stockholm. This is an open project. We would like to invite many more countries to join this choir of humanism. The Austrian historian Christian Gastgeber, the initiator of the exhibition suggests to add more countries, change humanists, identify new ones. It is our wish this should be a living exhibition.
 
As I have said before: Europe – Heritage of Humanism is not only about history:
It is about our present. And about what our future might look like.
 
Looking back in time, whom do we admire?
And who do we want to be?  
Today, we have to justify our decisions for future generations. How do we want to be remembered? So - are we ready to reload – European Values?
Soon European Elections will take place I want to quote this line from Alexander Hamilton: “History has its eyes on you.” History has its eyes on all of us.
Thank you for your attention!

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