Friday, January 16, 2009

Who Checks the Czechs?

The map of France with a sign stating "strike"

Bulgaria as a Turkish bathroom

Holland covered with minarets

Germany with autobahns

The Controversial sculpture of the maps of European nations

The American media, so far busy with the financial crisis and the canonization of Barack Obama, has not paid too much attention to a very interesting story coming from the European Union and which deserves some degree of publicity.

As all left leaning movements, the EU is keen on the development of art with political and other social redemptive messages. With this in mind, it commissioned a work designed to celebrate the Czech Republic’s assumption of the presidency of the EU. The winner was Czech artist David Cerny, who in his application promised a sculpture completed by 27 European artists. Upon receiving this commission he proceeded to invent 27 names, and together with some friends he created a sculpture that was unveiled in Brussels a few days ago and whose pictures I have placed above. The sculpture was not received with the enthusiasm expected, and even standing meditatively with a glass of chardonnay in their hands, diplomats could not help but complain about an artistic work that, if nothing else, should receive kudos for its humorous take on the history of Europe.

The first and most vituperative complains came from Bulgaria who saw it as, “…a humiliation for the Bulgarian nation and an offence to national dignity." The humiliation was Bulgaria’s map on the sculpture depicting this nation as a Turkish bathroom, referring of course to the many centuries of occupation by Turkey.

Germany’s unhappiness came from the map depicting it as being crisscrossed by autobahns in what some perceive the shape of a swastika. Spain was depicted in concrete to illustrate its building boom, and Denmark was depicted as a cartoon of Mohammed made up of Lego. Holland is covered with minarets, Italy has soccer players, France has a sign saying “strike”, and Poland has a group of Catholic priests raising a gay flag, while Romania is a gigantic Dracula.

The fact that the sculpture was erected at all is an insight into the dangers of bureaucracies, such as the one that is metastasizing in Brussels. Obviously no one had the guts to check the Czechs, with the result being seen now as many European states clamor for the sculpture to be removed.

Personally, I agree that this sculpture is an outrage. If the artist wanted to create something unifying that would have gained the praise of art sophisticates around the world, he should have done something not offensive. Something like a depiction of The Virgin Mary made out of elephant dung.

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