European stereotypes part II

The Czechs have done it again. The EU presidency was recently taken over by the Czech Republic and its Eurosceptic president Vaclav Klaus and now another Czech citizen is ruffling some EU feathers. Artist David Cerny embarrassed the Czech government, and the EU, with his revelation that the art installation entitled Entropa commissioned by his country to celebrate its EU presidency was not, as stipulated, created by 27 European artists. Cerny created the installation himself and invented the names of the other artists:

Entropa was commissioned by the Czech Government to mark its historic first turn in charge of the EU’s rotating presidency. Yesterday it tried to laugh off the growing controversy around the installation – unveiled on Monday in the atrium of the European Council building – but the incident has further undermined confidence in the Government’s abilities; coming, as it does, after a faltering start to the EU presidency since taking over from France on January 1.

As far as I can tell from the pictures here Entropa is an ugly but really funny piece of work. It basically is a collection of European stereotypes, some of them being rather poignant and astute. I love, for instance, how he depicts my home country The Netherlands as completely covered with water and showing only the tops of minarets. His idea for France is very apt too. “Grève” means “strike”. I am not so sure about his depiction of Germany with its many motorways (looks vaguely like a swastika, but this may be unintentional) but you gotta love Romania as a Dracula theme park and the fact that he simply left out Britain. How do you say “pwned” in the Czech language?

PS: If any of our readers finds more pictures of Entropa, please post them in the comments section. The sketches for the individual countries with explanations from the artist himself hiding behind fictitious names can be found here (pdf), courtesy of 20minutes.fr. He also talks about the Czech contribution to the installation:

Let the head of state have his say! A constant stream of brilliant Václav Klaus quotes. Words of wisdom that deserve to be etched in stone. The President’s sublime, pertinent comments about the whole world, and especially the EU, whizzing across a three-line alphanumeric LED display. He is OUR president, we elected him, so let’s show him off to the world with joy in our hearts. He’s not just a skier, he’s a great guy!

Afterthought: This reminds me of another controversial art piece, by Spanish artist Carlos Aires, that was commissioned to celebrate the 2006 Austrian EU presidency.

Instant update: More here (Dutch, but introduction in English) including a link to a BBC News slideshow. And even more here. Okay, that is it, I am done procrastinating.

18 thoughts on “European stereotypes part II

  1. Because it’s an installation about stereotypes I can live with the Dracula-theme park designed for my country. Nothing new in there.
    France and the missing UK are funny but I would be really pissed if I were Bulgarian. A toilet? C’mon, that’s not funny.

  2. I’m proud to be a Central/Eastern European today 🙂

    And I get the Germany reference, too. Must be a CE European meme 🙂

  3. ÄŒerný’s fame is based on shocking as many as possible. The Wikipedia articles about him and the tank monument tell details. As for the Entropa stereotypes – these belong to a typical Czech, hence it passed through the government so smoothly. Note, for example, Austria being covered by nuclear power plants.

  4. The “official” brochure with pictures of each nation’s sculpture can be downloaded here: eu2009.cz/scripts/file.php?id=8282&down=yes

    Austria = nuclear reactors. Cyprus is split in two. I did not see good pictures of Bulgaria (toilet)or Czech Republic (immortal words of Vaclav Klaus) elsewhere.

  5. Whoops! I did see Bulgaria. It’s just that it is different from the brochure. Poland, too, is very different. And it’s worth looking at the difference between the concept and finished sculpture for Germany.

  6. Excellent point CCBC. It looks like the actual installation is different from the brochure for many countries. This may explain how Cerny was able to appear to have artists lined up from each country.

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  8. I like the general idea of it, I don’t think people should be offended by it in general. I might be annoyed if I lived in Bulgaria, but maybe there’s some kind of in-joke there? Bagpipes for Ireland though? They’re Scottish :/

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