Entropa: The best public art installation in the world, ever

The Czech Republic has taken over the EU presidency.

To mark this they have commissioned a public art project from a well-regarded and notoriously iconoclastic Czech artist – David Cerny, the man responsible for famously painting a tank pink, in fact.

You can see where this is going already, can’t you?

On the verge of the unveiling, the public art project representing each of Europe’s nations as a pop-out piece from an Airfix kit, turns out to be not quite what the Great and Good were expecting. And everyone, absolutely everyone, has found something to be offended about.

Rather than a bland and inoffensive space-filler, it is a rude, jaw-dropping, uproariously funny and often uncomfortable piece of satire that shows more true understanding of the role of art than is usually evident in many a long year – let alone in Brussels.

Britain? Eurosceptically absent.
Germany? Vaguely swastika-shaped autobahns.
France? A big sign reading: ‘On strike!’
Sweden? An item of flat-pack furniture.
Spain? Concreted over.
Netherlands? Disappearing under the waves of a rising sea with only a few mosque minarets still visible.

And this on prominent display in the headquarters of the Council of the European Union. It doesn’t get much cooler than that, does it?

All the national artists said to be involved are fakes and the accompanying catalogue (downloadable as a PDF here, recommended for sheer hilarity) is written in the spirit of mocking pretentious art-speak.

Bruno Waterfield of The Telegraph, one of the first to notice something was a bit wrong, takes up the story:

Europe needs the ‘shocking’ Czechs

The Czech Republic, current holders of the EU presidency, has commissioned a large scale “provocation” taking the form of a giant jigsaw map representing the “clichés and stereotypes” of each of the EU’s 27 member states, executed by different national artists.

As EU energy ministers arrive in the drab Justus Lipsius buiding for crisis talks on the Russia-Ukraine energy crisis it has everyone talking. A first in my experience.

Conservative Roman Catholic Poland is depicted by a sculpture of priests raising the rainbow flag of the gay movement, subverting the iconic image of the American soldiers planting the Stars and Stripes on Iwi Jima. “A surreal vision of the interconnection of that which can not be interconnected,” claims the artist Leszek Hirszenberg.

France, despite the efforts of President Nicolas Sarkozy to reform its labour laws, is represented as by a map of France draped with a protest banner inscribed “Strike!”. “As result of the global and local political, economic and cultural situation, the GRAA group (the artists) has gone on strike indefinitely,” says the blurb.

The Netherlands is shown as having sunk beneath the sea in the aftermath of climate change and all that appears above the waves are the minarets of mosques, an explosive reference to the country’s high levels of Islamic immigration. When the sculpture is “switched on” this Thursday “sounds of singing muezzins” will be heard.

Britain is not to be seen at all because the British artist Khalid Asadi has sought to highlight Britain’s “uncertain” relations with the EU by cutting the country out altogether. Read full story here…

Bloody brilliant. And, as one of the commenters on The Times story below says, if he pulled it off, then that is part of the art.

More coverage here:

The Times: Czech sculptor admits £350,000 EU art hoax
“Only when Bulgaria – depicted as a Turkish lavatory – objected did the Czechs start to question the organiser of the project.”
BBC News: In pictures – Entropa installation
“Luxembourg is depicted as a small lump of gold for sale.”
BBC Blogs: Mark Mardell
The Czech Deputy Prime Minister Alexandr Vondra’s introduction to the installation, stating that “in today’s Europe there is no place for censorship.. I am confident in Europe’s open mind and capacity to appreciate such a project” may soon be tested.