Czech artist tells European Union to lighten up


Czech artist David Cerny was given £350,000 from his government to oversee the creation of a sculpture featuring the work of artists from all 27 European Union nations.

Instead, he got together with his pals and made an eight-ton sculpture called "Entropia" that depicted Romania as a "Dracula theme park," the Netherlands as being underwater "with only the tops of minarets sticking out," Bulgaria "as a series of squat toilets," Sweden as being "packed into an IKEA box" and so on.

I think he should be paid double.

The original intention was indeed to ask 27 European artists for participation. But it became apparent that this plan cannot be realised, due to time, production, and financial constraints. The team therefore, without the knowledge of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, decided to create fictitious artists who would represent various European national and artistic stereotypes. We apologise to Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek, Deputy Prime Minister Alexandr Vondra, Minister Karel Schwarzenberg and their departments that we did not inform them of the true state of affairs and thus misguided them. We did not want them to bear the responsibility for this kind of politically incorrect satire. We knew the truth would come out. But before that we wanted to find out if Europe is able to laugh at itself.

At the beginning stood the question: What do we really know about Europe? We have information about some states, we only know various tourist clichés about others. We know basically nothing about several of them. The art works, by artificially constructed artists from the 27 EU countries, show how difficult and fragmented Europe as a whole can seem from the perspective of the Czech Republic. We do not want to insult anybody, just point at the difficulty of communication without having the ability of being ironic.

Grotesque hyperbole and mystification belongs among the trademarks of Czech culture and creating false identities is one of the strategies of contemporary art. The images of individual parts of Entropa use artistic techniques often characterised by provocation. The piece thus also lampoons the socially activist art that balances on the verge between would-be controversial attacks on national character and undisturbing decoration of an official space. We believe that the environment of Brussels is capable of ironic self-reflection, we believe in the sense of humour of European nations and their representatives.

Statement by Czech artist David Cerny