Mapping Stereotypes in The Guardian

Mapping Stereotypes in The Guardian's Website

17-18.02.2012 The Guardian published an article containing an interview and a set of maps from my Mapping Stereotypes project. Two of them, a fortune teller’s sarcastic vision of Europe in 2022 and a sequel to the Arab Spring map called the Arab Winter 2012, were made especially for the occasion and premiered this Friday on the Guardian’s web site. You can also read an online version of the article, which originally appears on page 38 of the Weekend section of the newspaper (Sat 18 Feb 2012 issue). Many thanks to Liese Spencer and Tim Dowling for their patience and enthusiasm!

In less than a day after the article and the gallery were published online, they jumped to Nr 1 and Nr 2 Most Viewed posts in The Guardian’s site Art and Design section.

His map of Berlusconi’s worldview is both hilariously vulgar and, one suspects, not far wide of the mark. No matter where you’re from, you should be able to find something here to offend you.

Tsvetkov himself is nowhere near as narrow-minded as his maps. He speaks several languages, currently lives in Spain and feels comfortable throughout Europe.

Mapping Stereotypes in Stern Magazine

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01.01.2012 Stern, the biggest German weekly news magazine dedicated 6 pages from its kaleidoscope New Year issue to my Mapping Stereotypes project, declaring it “Satire de Jahres” (Satire of the Year). The presentation includes 7 maps: Europe According to USA, Germany, the Vatican, Switzerland, Greece, France and Silvio Berlusconi. At the end of it there is an interview with me about the history of the 3 year long project by Stern’s London correspondent Cornelia Fuchs.

The web site of the magazine has a special Mapping Stereotypes teaser with even more maps from the project.

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Der Bulgare Yanko Tsvetkov hat in diesem Jahr vor allem im Internet mit bissigem Humor Furore gemacht. In seinen satirischen Länderkarten suhlt sich der in London lebende Grafikdesigner genussvoll in Vorurteilen und nationalen Stereotypen.

This year the Bulgarian Yanko Tsvetkov has made a sensation on the Internet with his biting humor. In his satirical country maps, the London-based graphic designer delightfully immerses himself in prejudice and national stereotypes.

Silvio Berlusconi, der schlichte Schwerenöter, ist für den Satiriker natürlich die personifizierte Steilvorlage. Seine kleine Macho-Welt ist sehr akkurat nach „Pussys“ in verschiedenen Aggregatzuständen geordnet.

Silvio Berlusconi, the simple ladies’ man, is a natural personified target for the satirist. His small macho world is very accurately organized in variously defined “pussies”.

Europa ist mein Traum. Ich war 13 Jahre alt, als die Berliner Mauer fiel. Das war ein unglaublich emotionaler Moment.

Europa is my dream. I was 13 years old when the Berlin Wall came down. It was an unbelievably emotional moment.

Mapping Stereotypes in Newsweek Polska

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27.06.2011 In its 26st issue the Polish edition of Newsweek, one of the leading magazines in Poland, published 4 maps from my Mapping Stereotypes project (Europe According to Italy, France, Germany and Russia) under the title “Krzywe zwierciadło Europy” (False Mirror of Europe). The labels on the maps were translated in Polish by the editors of the magazine.

Bułgarski grafik Yanko Tsvetkow wykpił europejskie uprezedzenia i stereotypy w serii humorystycznych map.

Beppe Severgnini on Mapping Stereotypes

It’s the concern of repeating old mistakes which has taken away the pleasure to study diversity and laugh about it.

Beppe Severgnini is a prominent Italian writer and journalist. Needles to say, I feel genuinely honored to even see my name in an article written by him, not to mention seeing my Mapping Stereotypes project as the main theme. His essay, wonderfully titled Quegli stereotipi che ci ricordano il bello delle differenze, takes a serious look at my maps. Not because Mr. Severgnini didn’t get the humor in them but because he truly got to the root of it. And he does it with finesse, eloquence and clarity of thought I am not capable of achieving. I hope if he ever discovers this page, he won’t mind that I published a translation of his essay in English. I honestly believe that the more people understand this message, the better the European future will be. So here it goes:

Those stereotypes that remind us of the beauty of differences

The maps designed by the residing in London Bulgarian Yanko Tsvetkov provoke reflection

How do our neighbours see us? Yanko Tsvetkov, a Bulgarian designer, who lived in London for a while, produced several maps in which countries and regions are renamed according to the stereotypes with which other nations see them. According to the USA for example, in Russia live “the reds”, the French are “stinky people” and the Germans make us think of “dirty porn”. Tsvetkov, a 33 year old, says the idea came up in 2009 during the gas conflict between Russia and Ukraine. “I made the first design just to entertain my friends” explains Tsvetkov “but then I realized it was quite liked. so I decided to continue”. Since he published “Mapping Stereotypes” Mr. Tsvetkov’s site received half a billion visits. Beautiful idea, to design the maps according to European stereotypes. It means that (a) that they exist (b) that we can joke about them. Anyone who has heard a Frenchman speaking of an Englishman, an Englishman describing a German, a German telling of a Pole, a Pole commenting on a Russian, and all of them talking about us, Italians, knows that people can be deceitful. If there’s friendship between them, it will be fun. If there’s animosity, it’s no longer a joke but the verge of a war.

It’s the tragic story of Europe which has taken away our taste of irony. It’s the concern of repeating old mistakes which has taken away the pleasure to study diversity and laugh about it. Political correctness has imposed a pathetic lie: there are no nations, only people! There is no national character, only individual ones!

Nonsense! Look at an Italian street and a German one and you will realize it. Someone would say: “But the Germans arrive in Italy and after a little while they become even less disciplined than us”. True, it´s a proof that it’s the environment which triggers behaviours, there is no anthropomorphic determinism. The people in Berlin are correct when they say “If they drove like us in Naples, it would be better”. In Naples people would respond “If Tasso avenue was as long and straight as Unter den Linden, we would probably do it.”

They are full of splendid and harmless ferocity, those maps of Bulgarian Yanko Tsvetkov, who resides in London. It took an outsider to remind us that according to many French people, we Italians are friendly and noisy, the Greeks are noisy and hairy, and there are many Polish plumbers. And according to so many English people, Europe in its entirety, from Calais to Cyprus, is the Confederate Empire of Evil. And according to so many Italians, the East of Trieste is inhabited by a mix of porn stars, babysitters, Byzantines, thieves, and beer drinkers. According to the Americans, French people wash themselves only occasionally, the Swiss only think of money, the Scandinavians are socialists and we are obviously mafia.

Then we cross each other’s paths, we meet each other, we get to know each other, we become fond of each other, we fall in love with each other, and work together. And all these stereotypes melt away over a beer. Or a glass of wine, we say. A glass of champagne, say others. A bottle of vodka, propose the Russians and the Polish. With a plain whiskey, say the Scottish.

And we start it all over again, luckily, to be diverse, polemic and suspicious. Europe, like life, is beautiful because it has variety. If we were all the same, like some people imagine us in Brussels, we would end up in a perpetual, big yawn. Bigger than the public debt, to say the least.

Published on 22.09.2010 in Corriere della Sera. Translated from Italian by Emiliano Barragán-Géant

Mapping Stereotypes in Corriere della Sera

Mapping Stereotypes on Corriere della Sera front page 2010

22.09.2010 One of the major Italian newspapers, Corriere della Sera, published an article about my Mapping Stereotypes project written by Francesco Tortora. The article was presented on the front page under the title “Pregiudizi e stereotipi d’Europa: le mappe semiserie” (Prejudices and stereotypes of Europe: half-serious maps). It was also published online in Italian and English.

L’esperimento si è tramutato in un autentico successo e oltre mezzo miliardo di utenti ha ammirato sul sito web dell’artista la serie «Mapping stereotypes» le beffarde mappe degli stereotipi europei…

What was an experiment is now a runaway success with more than half a billion visitors logging on to the artist’s Mapping Stereotypes website…