January 15, 2009

Lampooning the balance between "would-be controversial attacks on national character and undisturbing decoration of an official space."

It's "Entropa," by Czech artist David Cerny, a 172-square-foot multi-part sculpture attached to the European Council building in Brussels. It's the Czech Republic's turn at the EU presidency, you see.
Entropa portrays Bulgaria as a toilet, Romania as a Dracula theme-park and France as a country on strike....

The Netherlands is shown as series of minarets submerged by a flood — a possible reference to the nation's simmering religious tensions.
Indeed, it's possible!
Germany is shown as a network of motorways vaguely resembling a swastika....
The old swastika — on a government building.

Cerny would like to know "if Europe is able to laugh at itself."

UPDATE: Czech Deputy Prime Minister Alexandr Vondra says:
"I apologise to Bulgaria and its government if it feels offended..."...

"We wanted to prove that 20 years after the fall of the Iron Curtain, there is no censorship," said the former Czech dissident.

But he refused to share the platform with the artist, who insisted his piece was in the European tradition of satire, like Monty Python and France's Les Guignols.

He also denied that the Lego entry for Denmark was a representation of one of the controversial cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad that appeared in 2005.

AND: Here's a picture of the Demark section.

22 comments:

Smilin' Jack said...

Cerny would like to know "if Europe is able to laugh at itself."

If they can't, we're more than up to it.

Eli Blake said...

I dunno, Jack.

You'd better laugh at Ann's jokes though or she will send her enforcers after you.

chickenlittle said...

The old swastika — on a government building.

Berlin is pretty well effaced of swastiki. This is the most public one I ever saw.

Soviet monuments are a whole 'nother story.

Henry Buck said...

The Lego Denmark is clearly a version of the cartoon "Exploding-Turban" Mohammed." The entire thing is hilarious.

Henry Buck said...

Here is a shot of Denmark:

Freeman Hunt said...

Heh. I like it.

Revenant said...

The Czechs seem like an interesting people. For such a small and frequently-oppressed nation, they have a knack for turning out independent thinkers with good senses of humor.

$9,000,000,000 Write Off said...

The caption to the Italian picture doesn't entirely grasp what the Italians value and cherish and, well, grasp.

I found the entire thing hilarious.

chickenlittle said...

Hey, Revenant is back! cool.

David said...

Actually, it's a double parody. Note that the cost of this installation was 373,000 euros, or about half a million dollars. Now that's a symbol of the modern Europe--a costly temporary edifice that nobody seems to appreciate.

traditionalguy said...

Wow! I am impressed. Just when Free Speech is being placed way down the politically-correct American list of priorities, these guys, who lived in a police state, people's paradise' and were force fed Pravada [Russian Newspaper similar to NYT]everyday for 40 years, are ready for some real Free Speech and to hell with the Collectivist SOB's. That warms my cockels.

reader_iam said...

Subversion through Legos: I love it.

Theo Boehm said...

It's not for nothing that Franz Kafka was Czech.

My office mate I've worked with for 12 long years is Czech, as was an old, very hot girlfriend.
There's no one word in the English language to characterize their national sense of humor. 'Sardonic' comes closest.

A very close old friend who's Bulgarian, and was connected with the old Communist government, says that Czechs made the best spies because of their urbane and often witty smoothness and ability to dissemble.
In Czech, instead of saying, "work like a dog," you say "work like a Bulgarian."

Interesting people!

Henry Buck said...

Why no tag? If you respond "You know", you'd be right, though.

Henry Buck said...

For comparison purposes, here is the Danish cartoon.

PatCA said...

I see a trend here. Now that we have a cool, hip President the artistic community will mercilessly deride Europe. It's good to be off the hot seat, no?

Cabbage said...

Will Durant said that Art is the conversion of capital into beauty. Needless to say, much of what passes for art these days is not.

Ann Althouse said...

Henry, I appreciate your pointing me to the link, but since I didn't quote you and name you on the front page, it didn't come within my normal tagging policy. I did think about it -- a lot! Please don't take it personally. I was following a long-held rule, and I mean no disrespect. If I put up a tag it would be confusing because I didn't put your name in the update (for simplicity).

Henry Buck said...

Don't give it another thought, life is too short.

Ann Althouse said...

Thx, but I really do care.

Barry said...

I passed around the NYT article on this yesterday... It's a great piece, and shows how EU leadership, at least, is not ready to "laugh at itself".

I think the Denmark part looks more like Denmark on a map than the Exploding Turban cartoon. Image of Denmark as reference.

Hector Owen said...

More links here.