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For all this innovation, in its projects "relations" also builds on a tradition that has long shaped European cooperation in the cultural sphere. At the beginning of the 20th century, the avant-garde seemed to effortlessly bring together artists in Paris, Berlin, Moscow, and other European centers into a single intellectual circuit. Today, with the European project in crisis, European politicians are showing an increased interest in this tradition of cultural exchange and thus in the question of the role culture can play in Europe.

"Europe no longer inspires people to dream." Jürgen Habermas quoted these sobering words of the Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker after the failure of the French and Dutch referenda on the European constitution. But the idea of Europe can hardly achieve the quality of an inspiring dream on the basis of acquis communautaire alone. Rather, Europe must attempt to harness and use the invigorating forces of art and culture to breathe life into European experiences, with the courage to formulate visions, with perseverance in productive disagreement, in the spirit of utopia, and also with sensitivity for conflict and the more brutal facets of European reality.

The Federal Cultural Foundation tries to advance European integration from a position embracing both systems: that of cultural praxis and politics. "relations" is one of the initiatives with which the Foundation actively campaigns for the development of a European public sphere, a public sphere whose language we all – politicians, cultural actors and transmitters, and the general public – first have to learn. This DVD, a collection of observations from Chişinău, Sofia, Pristina, Sarajevo, Warsaw, Zagreb, and Ljubljana, provides an abundance of material capable of promoting this learning process. It produces perceptions and images of a Europe that is geographically broader and politically more complex than the European Union. A Europe in different aggregate states: crisis-ridden regions alongside corridors of growth, visa barriers alongside the marketplaces of global corporations, supposedly dynamic, progressive zones alongside apparently backward ones.

Every publication addresses a specific readership. I wish this digital "relations" archive three groups of readers: politicians who take it as a compass of knowledge for the Europe of today; artists and cultural actors who hopefully find inspiration to undertake projects beyond established cultural systems; and finally, all those – and may their number be large – who refuse to cease fostering their dream of Europe.

Hortensia Völckers, Artistic Director of the German Federal Cultural Foundation

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