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Edith KARLSON – Family

Edith KARLSON – Family © Hedi-Jaansoo-and-KUMU-Art-Museum

Estonia, 2019

Concrete, metal, mixed media, Dimensions variable, height approximately 120 cm

Purchased from the artist in 2023

Taking a closer look

Family (2019) is an installation composed of three monstrous animal figures that are arranged together to depict an unusual family portrait. The protagonists of this fictional scene are a child and its parents who are given human characteristics and behaviours. They appear to look over towards the same direction and are staged with eerily similar crooked smiles smeared across their lizard-like face. Their bandaged and cracked bodies, a result of raw concrete casting, are strikingly tactile when staged in an over-lit clinical environment. The materials, forms and space all become an important part of a performative, almost carnivalesque, world. This installation follows a series of works by the Estonian artist where animals are used as allegories to discuss the connection between people and the environment, such as the unique family environment here displayed.

Taking a closer look to Karlson’s large-scale work, a miniature box rests on the lap of one of the parents. This framed assemblage depicts a “traditional model (nuclear) family”, with mother, father and their two children happily playing in a colourful living room. This contrasting scene is typical of her art practice characterized as narrative art; taking the form of allegorical or mythological narratives, her fictitious landscape provides an alternative form of existence, creating different worlds and realities for the viewer, as well as the ability to create fantastic narratives that are closer to reality than one might initially perceive. Commenting on contemporary society, Family serves as a powerful reminder of equality, self-determination, and individual freedom, as “family” is ultimately a community of love and harmony among people.

Edith Karlson, Family, Estonia, 2019
Concrete, metal, mixed media.

Art in Democracy

Edith Karlson's Family is currently on display at the European Parliament as part of the exhibition Art in Democracy (23 October - 30 June 2024). The exhibition displays the critical and personal visions of the featured artists who, through their artistic production, have taken a clear position in favour of defending democracy. They contribute to reinforcing awareness of the need to stand up for democratic freedoms, pointing towards the duty to remain alert and participatory in processes as decisive as the European elections. In this connection, they remind us that European citizens have a crucial role to play in defending democracy by voting in the upcoming European elections in June 2024.

More artists from the following country:

Edith KARLSON : Family, 2019 - On display in Parlamentarium, Brussels

Edith KARLSON – Family


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  • 2013

    Acquisition programme

    Acquisition programme of works of art from Croatia following the Bureau decision from 13 December 2006.

    Enlargement Croatia

    Croatia becomes the 28th member of the EU and newly-elected Croatian MEPs take their seats in the European Parliament.

  • 2014

    2014 European elections

    The eighth European elections take place in 28 EU countries. The European People’s Party (EPP) retains the largest political group in Parliament, but new parties gain influence. Turnout remains largely at 2009 level.

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    Brexit referendum

    UK voters decide to support leaving the European Union in a closely-fought referendum called by UK Prime Minister David Cameron. The outcome of the referendum triggers the resignation of Cameron. His successor Theresa May pledges to take the UK out of the EU and initiates the process on 29 March 2017.

  • 2017

    Antonio Tajani

    Antonio Tajani served as President of the European Parliament from 2017 to 2019.

  • 2019

    David Sassoli

    David Sassoli served as President of the European Parliament from 2019 to 2022.

    Value of culture

    (…) the intrinsic value of culture and of artistic expression should always be preserved and promoted and that artistic creation is at the heart of cooperation projects. European Parliament legislative resolution of 28 March 2019 on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing the Creative Europe programme (2021 to 2027) and repealing Regulation (EU) No 1295/2013 (COM(2018)0366 – C8 0237/2018 – 2018/0190(COD))

    2019 European elections

    The European elections in May 2019 see about 51% of EU voters go to the polls, the highest turnout in 20 years. The centre-right European People’s Party and centre-left Social Democrats lose seats but remain the two largest groups in Parliament, while other centrist and liberal parties make gains.

  • 2020


    After the European Parliament ratified the withdrawal agreement on 29 January, the UK leaves the EU about three and a half years after voters supported the move in a referendum.

    As of 1 February, the number of EU member states is 27 and the term of office of UK MEPs ends. The number of MEPs is 705 (previously 751), as some of the UK seats are allocated to existing member states to reflect demographic changes, while others are kept in reserve for when another country joins the EU.

  • 2021

    Acquisition programme of works of art from Germany, Poland, Spain and Sweden following the Bureau decision from 25 November 2019

  • 2022

    Acquisition programme of works of art from Czechia, Italy, Malta and Slovakia following the Bureau decision from 25 November 2019

    Roberta Metsola

    Roberta Metsola serves as President of the European Parliament since January 2022

  • 2023

    Acquisition programme of works of art from Cyprus, Estonia, Malta, Romania and The Netherlands following the Bureau decision from 25 November 2019