SEN has chosen for a world map without a particular continent placed at its center. Each continent is illustrated around the North Pole. As such we aim to depict the world's continents and regions as sustained by one undivided totality - planet Earth.
Africa, the world’s second largest continent, holds in its core a heartbeat. A beating drum of the continuous cycle of birth, death and rebirth of all living species existing within the cradle of humankind. Human footprints on the tangerine earth have marked ancient migrant trajectories across the continent for thousands of years.
Asia, the world’s largest and most densely populated continent resembles an age-old oak as its roots reach out to the furthest corners of the continent. Asian roots entwine the world’s highest mountain chain, the Himalayas, endless terraces of rice paddy’s glistening under the sun, meditative hymns echoing through red Buddhist cloth, Mongolian horses galloping as the wind carries their speed on vast empty steppes, Monsoon floods absorbing the scent of tropical coconut oils and a sparkling tale of Vishnu like a fish gliding through the currents of the Bay of Bengal.
This characteristic imagery seems to be engraved into our collective notions of Asia, even in the light of a continent containing everything except for homogeneity. It is the originating place of some of the earliest civilizations in the world as well as a diverse range of cultures and world religions. As such Asia is home to a large part of the mysticism found throughout the history of humanity in the form of rituals, sacred grounds and ancient philosophies. At the same time Asia embodies the consecrated as well as the more profane, mundane life. Bustling metropolitan cities rising since the 1950’s, booming technological industry and labour together with local communities and more traditional ways of living still coexist side by side.
The shift towards hubs of cutting-edge technology and science, modern cityscapes and international investment all reveal the role of Asia’s economic powerhouses in the world today.
Yet the fengshui interwoven into life spaces and a sense of belonging remains: be it to the East-Asian collective harmony as delicate as the lotus unfolding itself or to the South-Asian principal of diversity in oneness. A sense of belonging has been spreading through ancestry and trade for ages along the Silk Road. It’s all a deep source of life for this continent enclosed in the East by the Pacific Ocean, in the West by Europe, to the North by the Arctic Ocean and in the South by the Indian Ocean.
Australia & Oceania
'We are all visitors to this time, this place. We are just passing through. Our purpose here is to observe, to learn, to grow, to love & then to return Home.'
– Aboriginal Proverb
Australia, the world’s smallest continent and Oceania as one of the remotest group of islands, seem to be located ‘at the other world’s end’. This region parallels a lost paradise. A treasure island, once hidden and relatively isolated, yet still full of mesmerizing landscapes with a distinct biodiversity.
Fading sunlight diminishing slowly - casting off long thin shadows on desolate red plateaus in the vast interior Outback, turquoise coral reefs, the bird’s eye view of breathtaking limestone formations and curving river gorges have a silent, almost epic grandness to their existence. These natural wonders all give an inkling of the surrealist presence of the Aboriginal creator, the Rainbow Serpent. For more than 50.000 years this fantastic figure has been animating the region’s flora and fauna, its secret places as in Dreamtime stories. Within the same great span of time green waves have been crushing on Pacific Islands, while immersing the ochre marks and spirals painted on Polynesian faces. This is but one reflection on Australia and Oceania, mirroring the surface of still waters veiling other solid currents underneath. Two of these currents have been immigration to the region and their history as British colonies approximately since the early 19th century. European settlement has marked consequent changes in political organization and economy. It has engendered an export and service economy, while the region has also remained relatively focused on its own internal dynamics. Nowadays coastal urban melting pots foster one of the most steady and affluent lifestyles found in the world.
This placid form of subsistence and hybridity is a human milestone.
Yet currents may flow according to their own internal dynamics, the pristine reflection on the surface can never remain undisturbed. A red sandstone monolith, the Australian Uluru expresses the righteous struggle for indigenous culture and the protection of their livelihoods. Yet once when currents will be truly capable of harmonizing with surface waters, ripples of reciprocity and reconciliation will move this region - this continent of a distant paradise outstanding in the midst of ocean waters. This unique region is in all four cardinal points surrounded by the Indian and South Pacific Ocean.
‘We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.’ – Albert Einstein
Europe epitomizes the Grand Dame of a continent marked with icons and heritage. Though relatively small in physical scope, the continent seems to be adorned with grace like the statuesque Aphrodite of Milos - that is the Venus herself.
As a hostess this Grand Dame accommodates fresco art and stained glass windows in her chambers, midnight summer dreams and Northern Lights in her wardrobe, Gaelic ruins as well as Mediterranean fisher houses are all reflected in her jewellery, while she reads an anthology ranging from Divine Comedies to Faustian tragedies. In her heart she finds Arctic tundra’s and fjords, highlands as well as pastoral countryside with a haze of empty stillness and a Black Forest connected to a meandering Danube.
The collective memory of Europe appears to be one of Tales.
Amongst others the tale of Roman and Byzantine empires, Celtic kingdoms, Moorish settlement and the Habsburg monarchy preceded following tales. To name only a few of the themes unfolding within this European synopsis would entail colonial history, two World Wars, the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution, the Enlightenment and the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. To unite these narratives with their intricate plots and events within one encompassing storyline would be a major undertaking.
The European Union, granted the Nobel Price for Peace award in 2012, is such a venture. It is the overarching European narrative attempting towards economic and political integration. The value of this supranational body has not remained unchallenged among individual nation states, yet this continent could be seen as a living monument bordered in the north by the Arctic Ocean, in the south by the Mediterranean, the Black and the Caspian Sea, to the west by the Atlantic Ocean and in the east by the Ural Mountains that separate the continent from Asia.
‘One way or another, we all have to find what best fosters the flowering of our humanity in this contemporary life and dedicate ourselves to that.’ - Joseph Campbell
An eagle stately through its feathers and foresight with a scope so wide to include the heavens above, while below on the ground a jaguar with its spirited connection to Mother Earth - together they guard the world’s third largest continent North America.
Central America as the southern part of the continent with a wilderness of cloud forests and tropical coastal zones. Despite the nocturnal wakefulness of the jaguar and the eagle’s freedom neither bound by time nor space, shifting towards the realism of the daytime the status of the northern part including Canada and the United States has been one of unprecedented welfare. Underneath an economy of capital means and global dynamics dwells the spirit of democratic constitution - a land of Dreams and possibilities that has attracted migratory influences from all over the world. During several ages like any other continent, North America has accumulated countless political and civil stories.
Though the northern part has gone through a major transformation since Colombo’s discovery in 1492, the wisdom of the eagle, the Native Americans and their Elders is still standing and essentially belongs to this continent.
In the southern direction of the continent the jaguar has neither been unthreatened due to environmental issues such as deforestation. Yet the effervescent glow of the region is still inspired by its jaguar’s warrior spirit. This continent is bordered in the east by the Atlantic Ocean, in the west by the Pacific Ocean, to the north by the Arctic Ocean and to the south by the Caribbean Sea.
Western Asia, the meeting point of three distinctive continents, dances like shimmering candlelight broken into myriad forms, each reflected by a face centred cubic mirror. The geometry of this mirror is diversified, but in its totality it is known as the Arab world notwithstanding the many other non-Arab ethnicities living in this region.
Western Asia has a remarkable culture as well as a highly diversified political history. Its internal structures are interwoven like a mineral crystal kindled by amber hued light, while it sparks an ancient past of mystics, astronomers, poets and mathematicians. It is the one and only originating place of the world’s three largest monotheistic faiths. Scriptural remnants of dashes and strokes alluding to the divine - to that which rests in Great Silence - seem to envelop not only the Kaaba and the Western Wall, but also the region’s physical geography like the basaltic plateau of the Golan Heights and Sinai’s sand dunes. A beautiful elusiveness surrounds this region. Already before as well as after the rise of monotheism, other capacities during the passage of centuries have also come into existence such as the Persian Empire, the age-old Mesopotamia between the Tigris and the Euphrates – ‘the land amidst rivers’, the Bedouins as well as the Phoenician civilization.
For the last decades, high tech development and a prosperous oil economy have developed in several nations along the Persian Gulf. Another mirror reflection for this region is the demand of water. The Jordan River and the lowest point on the earths’ surface, the Dead Sea face drought and pollution. Both are vital aquatic ecosystems to a largely arid region.
Though the quintessential wholeness of this region is not as geometrically shaped as it could be, hope springs eternal - giving vision and voice to the citizens who have kept the candle burning, truly and light as always.
This ancient and unfathomable region is surrounded by seven seas. It is bordered in the north by the Black Sea, Caspian Sea and the Caucasus Mountains, in the south by the Arabian Sea, to the west by the Aegean, Red and Mediterranean Sea as well as the Isthmus of Suez separating it from Africa and to the east by the Persian Gulf, where it is connected to Central and South Asia.
‘Condor Dreaming motivates us to collectively reach out and share the knowledge we have stored within ourselves.’
- Andean teaching
The continent with the largest north-south landmass and (except for Antarctica) the southernmost point in the world characterized as the Earth of Fire is South-America. The legacy of South America’s historical civilizations and their connection to natural forces seem to be moving the contemporary spirit through a passionate vigor for life and creativity. This celebration of life evokes reminisces of ripening fruits, bright and powerful as the Sun, full of joy and taste.
A sense of magic realism in its literary tradition as well as in its physical geography seeps through every vital vein of this continent.
Endless pampas against a broad horizon glazed by pale clouds, Andean glaciers and volcanic grounds originating from primordial times shape the continent’s temperament. This is a tremendous expressive dance. Patterning its folklore. Colourful birds gather and disperse. Rainforest foliage is carrying, but also sustained itself by the earth’s largest river the Amazon. Together they constitute one of the most diverse ecosystems on earth.
Mythology also abounds in this part of the world and as such South-America represents a large part of the magical found throughout human existence.
Through numerous processions, candles have lightened indigenous villages and colonial towns spread all over the continental landscape. Indigenous cultures as well as diverse migratory flows originating from specifically Europe and Africa have also become part of this realm. The South-American metropolis is another landmark. A marking point of skewed urbanization progressively built against slopes. Currently the continent presents another of its manifold faces to the world. Trade and large-scale agricultural production characterize parts of South-America. There is a rising prosperity as well as the crucial need to sustain the continent’s natural wonders, vital ecosystems and its magical human touch. This continent is bordered in the East by the Atlantic Ocean, to the West by the Pacific, in the north by the Caribbean Sea and in the south by Antarctica.