a new art project commissioned by Prague in honor of its six-month stint at the head of the 27-member bloc has caused the Czechs to blush with embarrassment. Called "Entropa," the piece is a €373,000 over-sized mosaic map of Europe that relies on stereotypes to depict each country. And a number of countries are furious about it.
"It is preposterous, a disgrace," Betina Joteva, press officer for Bulgaria's permanent representation in Brussels told the euobserver Web site. "It is a humiliation for the Bulgarian nation and an offence to national dignity."
Joteva has, perhaps, reason to be upset. Her country is depicted in the eight-ton sculpture as a Turkish toilet.
Nice. Here it is in all its glory. It's bloody huge.
Germany is shown as being criss-crossed by autobahns — and some thought they recognized a slightly deformed swastika in the resulting design.
Cerny was categorical in his denial. "It has nothing to do with the swastika," he said. It is about highways and Germany's obsession with cars. Nothing else."
Hmm. Here's a photo. Cerny has made it just enough unlike a Swastika to get away with his denial. Probably.
Romania is shown as a Dracula theme park; Spain is merely a slab of concrete, in reference to its recently burst real-estate bubble; Holland is shown as being flooded over with only a few minarets poking out above the waves; Luxembourg is a gold nugget with a huge "For Sale" sign sticking out of it; and France is covered with a large sign reading "strike," an allusion to that country's frequent labor battles.
And Denmark's bit is a depiction in Lego of one of the Mohammed cartoons, so Cerny could be facing not only the pompous outrage of EU diplomats but also an actual bloody great fatwa over this. Good for him.
As if the sculpture itself wasn't brilliant enough, he didn't stop there. His original application to the Czech Government stated that the work
would be completed by artists from the 27 EU member-states. ... Instead, Cerny made up the names of the European artists supposedly participating in the project and put it together with a couple of friends.
And he didn't just make up their names. He invented imaginary portfolios and histories for them, and wrote a blurb by each of these artists describing their part in the project.
The UK's bit is described by its creator, the acclaimed yet fictional British artist Khalid Asadi, thus:
If art and associated attitudes are not to become pleasing-appearance ready-made goods, but a living, albeit perhaps fleeting, organism, art should be able to improve exactness of its message in the time allotted to it and thus, paradoxically, define itself in history... These screen points are spatial holograms of historical memory, experience, and therefore each such new overlap becomes another non-linear tangle to the naked eye.
Particularly excellent, I think, since the UK bit doesn't actually exist. But, you see, they didn't leave it out: they put it in, but it's non-existent. Genius.
Quoth Mark Steyn (yeah, yeah, I know):
I also like the list of previous exhibitions Mr Cerny has provided for each artist. You may recall "Sabrina Unterberger's" solo show in Vienna, "Ernst Logar is cooking a soup of his childhood."
"We were hoping that it wouldn't be taken with the kind of seriousness that it has been and that it would be fun," Cerny said. "It wasn't about insulting anyone. I am shocked that certain states don't have a sense of humor."
Yes, shocked, shocked, I say. Sure you are, David.
Best piece of modern art since that giant rabbit, in my opinion.