Oliviero Toscani Benetton PosterMy reflections after the Sound of Europe conference in Salzburg have been continuing over the last few days. I still don’t have everything clear in my mind about what could or should be learnt from the conference – a better overview will appear here in a few days.

One idea did strike me though, out of a combination of seeing bland but welcome adverts about the EU’s peacekeeping role in the Balkans in Vienna airport on the way home, and having had the pleasaure to spend an hour or so speaking to Oliviero Toscani (the photographer of the controversial Benetton campaigns – pictured) at the Sound of Europe conference (see this post). He was invited to give some cultural input into the conference, but I think the organisers (Schuessel is a conservative after all) would want no more involvement of Toscani than that. But why not? Why not take it further than just inviting him to a stale conference?

Give Toscani some EU funding to come up with a very hard-hitting poster campaign about what the EU is doing. It need not all be in a positive light – it should at least show the tensions at play. But by using Toscani’s brutal honesty as a person, and his ability to provoke and shock, it would make the EU more real, more of a vital subject for debate.

Now, having stated in his public speech on the second day of Sound of Europe that he loathed the old men in grey suits that run Europe and pursue compromise to an obsessive degree, I cannot imagine Toscani would sit down with the Commission and discuss a photo campaign. On the other side, the Commission would for sure be scared. Yet it would be fun, very cool, and might give the EU the kick it so badly needs.

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