Lewis Bush’s A Model Continent is a book of postcards from Mini Europe, a sort of theme park in Brussels built around 1:25 scale models of a few selected European Landmarks, built to celebrate the EU. I’m reminded of the Andy Warhol line in Basquiat “Hey, we could go to Pittsburgh! I kinda grew up there. They have this room with all the world’s famous statues in it, so you don’t even have to go to Europe any more… just go to Pittsburgh.”
Bush is perhaps somewhat less excited by the park than Warhol seems to be about the museum…
It’s not quite Dismaland, the short-lived Banksy Installation, but Mini Europe is also nothing like the actual, existing Europe. In Mini Europe, for example, bricks hold sailboats in place and the Chunnel is made of algae-encrusted PVC. A gigantic water slide (scale of 1:1) looms over the acropolis, and you can walk the length and breadth of the continent (and Great Britain) in a few short hours, if that.
As pointed out by Bush in his Introduction, Mini Europe’s organizers had to limit the monuments and structures they included in the park, resulting in a sanitized, unrealistically unified Europe, devoid of the ethnic and linguistic variety, not to mention the industrial grottiness and glossy contemporary blandness.
The Postcard Book as an object works perfectly for this project and it’s a form that might be worth exploring. The print quality is good and if these postcards age and fade like those great ones I sometimes see in antique shops, but never buy, they’ll look even better in a few dozen years…
Overall, I’ll give it 4 stars.
You can find a good overview of the project on Bush’s website, and you can pick up a set of postcards from his store for £5. Not bad, though the stores is currently closed (through September 2018), as Bush is busy with a new project.