Hundreds of eurocrats and journalists have jeered and applauded an explosive artwork that features masturbating Italian footballers, Romanian vampires and striking Frenchmen. There were calls to pull down the giant sculpture, Entropa, just as it was being officially unveiled in Brussels to mark the start of the Czech EU Presidency, with both the Czechs and creator David Cerny in the firing line.
The work is meant to poke fun at the EU by exploiting national stereotypes but Bulgaria, which is depicted as a Turkish toilet, failed to see the funny side and has asked to be removed from the exhibit and has fired off a complaint to the Czech government. One Bulgarian bureaucrat said:
“I find it entirely offensive. It’s ugly and tasteless.“
The Czech government was also made the butt of a joke by Cerny himself, who faked the participation of 27 EU artists in the project and instead created the eight-tonne mosaic with just two colleagues.
“I apologise to the Czech government, which unwittingly supported us in our work. But I do not apologise for the work itself,” said Cerny to a never-before-seen crowd of journalists and onlookers in the European Council, the bunker-like hub of the EU.
No censorship, we’re Czech
Despite the artwork also being blasted in Germany, which is represented by a set of motorways that cross in a shape evocative of a swastika, and in Slovakia, the Czechs are defending their project. Czech Deputy Prime Minister Alexandr Vondra insisted:
“Entropa is just art, nothing more, nothing less. We wanted to prove that twenty years after the fall of the Iron Curtain there is no place for censorship in Europe.”
Mr Vondra added that it has raised “positive reactions” and said the use of stereotypes was deliberate.
“Stereotypes and clichés are barriers to integration in Europe. By realising that these barriers are there, we can start removing them.”
One Dutchman pointed to the Netherlands, shown as a set of minarets sinking under floodwater, and commented:
“It think it’s terrific. At least it’s getting people talking and discussing art.”
British onlookers were similarly sanguine as they gazed up at the blank space that should have been filled with their eurosceptic nation.
“It shows the distance we have towards Europe, I believe it’s called the English Channel,” joked one man, while another added:
“We’re there in spirit if not in body!”
One of the most entertaining displays is a team of Italian footballers, each one suggestively moving his football up and down while one player appears to have an orgasm. One grinning Irish woman said:
“It’s hilarious! At last we all get to have a good laugh at each other!”
The future of Entropa may be in the balance, but it is certain to turn David Cerny into an international darling of the art world. As one Croatian put it:
“He’s made. It’s a work of genius and he’ll gain even more notoriety if it’s taken down.”