The cover, titled ‘Our Foundations’ is a reimagining of ‘The School of Athens’, a painting by Italian Renaissance artist Raphael. The central figures in the original painting, Plato and Aristotle, are seen in our illustration as Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis with European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, at his side. The position of Socrates, seen in the original painting making a distinctive hand gesture, is taken by European Parliament President David Sassoli. Not every figure is mirrored, and we’ll leave it to our readers to draw parallels as to what other character has been transposed onto our illustrations.
A key element of the cover are the six caryatids (originally found at the Acropolis). They are holding up ‘Our World’, and represent democracy; our very foundations. The missing caryatid is being dragged out by Boris Johnson, with some interpreting this as directly as Brexit, and others as populism. Some see this as a call to action – yet only a little dog is currently trying to resist this (Toro the Pug has been featured in all three of the last ‘Our World’ covers). In parallel with reality, the missing caryatid was ‘removed’ in the early 19th century, and is currently held hostage in the British Museum, with her five sisters sitting in the Acropolis museum in Athens waiting for her return. Perhaps, much like many in the EU are hoping for the UK to return one day as well.
French President Emmanuel Macron, seen climbing on the left, has left the ‘hard politics’ of trying to engage with US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin – they are just playing battleship after all, which is a game for two. Instead, Macron is vying to (already) leave a legacy like Angela Merkel has – honored by a marble statue on the right. But climbing up a column does not a political icon make. The President of China, Xi Jinping, is seen performing some… repairs on a robot that is not only self-aware, but also taking selfies. Such androids after all, will inevitably be a reflection of their makers, just like the state of our societies are today.
European Commission Vice-President Šefčovič is looking ahead, devising strategy for the European Union, while just beneath him in the illustration is VP Margaritis Schinas talking to cordoned-off Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. European Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides, with her bow in hand, is killing the biggest threat to our humanity’s wellbeing – the Cancer monster; meanwhile, Transport Commissioner Adina Vălean is sitting on a Tesla Cybertruck mapping out how to make a sustainable future that guarantees economic growth.
Finally, a tribute of respect to the vast devastation recently seen with the fires in Australia, is found in the eyes of the koala bear.
This illustration is a puzzle of many pieces. Much like in our world, and this publication as well, not everything blends together – but whether we like it or not there are many realities to be aware of and deal with and they don’t always make sense or fit into one another.