Friday, March 27, 2009

EU punked by an artist


From Michael Moynihan and Ronald Bailey in Reason...

The Czech government, who currently hold the rotating presidency of the European Union, selected artist David Cerny to produce an artwork symbolizing European unity and cooperation that would be displayed at the European Council's office building in Brussels. One could have expected that Cerny, who recently courted controversy with his Damien Hirst-inspired "Saddam Hussein in formaldehyde" (which was pulled from a Belgian museum when city officials worried it might "offend Muslims")...would have tried to piss a few people off with a piece on national stereotypes in EU member countries.

As Sarah Lyall writes in the Times, Cerny didn't disappoint, submitting a massive sculpture titled "Entropa":

But wait. Here is Bulgaria, represented as a series of crude, hole-in-the-floor toilets. Here is the Netherlands, subsumed by floods, with only a few minarets peeping out from the water. Luxembourg is depicted as a tiny lump of gold marked by a "for sale" sign, while five Lithuanian soldiers are apparently urinating on Russia. France? On strike. [In the print version, Moynihan noted that the Bulgarians were represented by a Turkish toilet]....

In the case of "Entropa," Mr. Cerny presented the piece as the work of 27 artists, one from each country. But it was all a huge hoax. After being challenged by reporters this week, Mr. Cerny admitted that he and two of his friends constructed the whole thing themselves, making up the names of artists, giving some of them Web sites and writing pretentious, absurd statements to go with their supposed contributions.


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