One day in 2009, I met Alain Roba, a great collector. He opened wide the doors to one of the most endearing myths in the Western world.
On closer inspection, I realized that this princess was more than just a legend; she was proof of the continent's existence before it was formed. And after all, isn't it a tendency of all eras to believe that ours is the most fertile, when so much existed before we invented it? One year on, this exhibition, serious in its subject and irreverent in its form, has come out, and we have all wondered about the fact that a great idea like Europe is perceived so narrowly by European public opinion.
It's a fact that what's positive is of little interest to the media. And above all, that the scope of national policies is shrinking. And that, consequently, they need a scapegoat. This is a perverse effect of the Union. As a result, when we talk about Europe, it's usually to put it at the center of our national pettiness. With this exhibition, the Maison de l'Image is pleased to evoke Europe, not in its most glamorous light, but based on a myth dating back 3,000 years, which shows us that the geopolitical symbol of the continent pre-existed the creation of the European Union.
Some will see it as a legend linked to European art. Others will see a myth that found its meaning in the formation of the continent. Still others will see in the abduction of Europe confirmation that behind every myth lies a genetic memory, a hidden reality. But one truth stands out: the geopolitical symbol of the continent pre-existed the creation of the European Union. An element to be added to the nagging debate about a continent presented as a club of merchants with no fraternity between them, apart from the economic one, before the financial crisis of the states darkened the horizon.
An interesting, albeit collateral, aspect of this legend was brought to us long ago by Michel Tournier in his discourse on the phoric animal (1). He wrote one of his finest pages on the horse, a carrier animal and therefore phoric (bringing good luck) on the one hand, and on Saint Christopher on the other, a phoric Saint carrying the infant Christ. But when it comes to phoric animals, there's nothing quite like Zeus, transformed for the cause into a swimming Bull about to marry an Eastern princess who would give her name to the continent.
(1) The Alder King