Monday, January 12, 2009 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Entropa: celebrating the European entropy

Because Ukraine is going to sign the gas treaty with Russia again, without the insulting added declaration, the Czech EU presidency doesn't seem to have enough useful work to do, so they decided to switch to some creative arts for a while. :-)

The EU taxpayers are going to pay EUR 50,000 to Mr David Černý (beware of an excessively funny website!), a highly independent artist - if you want me to describe the nutcase politely - whose most famous piece so far has been the Soviet tank No 23 (the first one that liberated Prague in 1945 and has served as a memorial for decades) which he painted pink.

As far as I can say, his second most famous statue is the swimming statue of Saddam Hussein called "Shark".

At any rate, he is going to get the rental costs for an EU puzzle called "Entropa" which shows the diversity of Europe by decomposing it into separate pieces of artwork whose shape usually resembles the country and whose content either confirms or negates some prejudices about the corresponding nation. See
for the main presentation which includes the pictures and their funny descriptions. You may also read some comments about this event:

Stereotypes and barriers to be demolished (HTML)
Stereotypes and barriers to be demolished (PDF)
The art installation was unveiled in the atrium of the Justus Lipsius building of the EU Council in Brussels, Belgium. Well, I am not sure whether this installation is the deepest kind of arts we can imagine but it is pretty creative and entertaining.

See No Pasaran (our competitors at the 2008 blog awards) and The Telegraph to learn about the full sculpture. These two sources wouldn't even tell you that the artwork was controlled by the Czech EU presidency and that its name is Entropa! ;-) The puzzle is also pictured and described by the Czech Press Agency.

Three trucks were needed to transfer the monster. It will be launched on January 15th at 11 a.m.

Update: creator

I have personally had no doubts that Mr David Černý has created the whole sculpture, despite the names of artists from 27 countries that appeared in the booklet. However, the Czech minister for European affairs, Mr Alexander Vondra, only "learned" about this fact today. (See his statement.) He is upset and plans to take further steps.

Mr David Černý has apologized for the mystification.

I would recommend Mr Vondra to try to avoid any steps because they would be testimonies of Vondra's naivite. Mr David Černý had neither the honesty nor the contacts nor the need nor the desire to be looking for artists in 27 countries (which is a huge number: this blog has visitors from 220 countries but I wouldn't be able to find people in 27 countries who share the same type of the sense of humor and to force them to do nontrivial work). On the other hand, it was trivial for him to create 27 pieces of nonsense rather than one.

It is foolish to believe 100% of statements by people who paint tanks pink and create swimming Saddam Hussein, among crazier things, all the time. A lesson to be learned, Mr Vondra.

It is bad if Vondra couldn't figure this thing out. There are other things that Vondra may be ignorant about, so let me tell him: the EU bureaucratic sourballs are surely not happy about this independent creation that actually encourages people to think. If he thinks that the EU officials are happy, someone should try to explain him the reality!

On the other hand, the Czech EU presidency should try hard to force Europe to think. And if Vondra thought that Entropa was a good piece of art, then Mr David Černý is 27 times more ingenious an artist than we thought! :-)


This posting can't be updated indefinitely but because hundreds of people read it every day, let me say a few extra comments. Bulgaria succeeded in its efforts to remove its picture as a Turkish toilet - the stupid gadget where you can't even sit and that drives the Czech tourists up the wall. ;-)

Bulgaria shouldn't be that embarrassed by this detail. If they want censorship like that, they should start with the name of their country which is related to "bugger": some people in Turkey invented the name by classifying the sexual orientation of immigrants from the country now called Bulgaria.

When my former Bulgarian classmate at Rutgers learned that this explanation was included in the Oxford Dictionary of English a few years ago, he argued that the dictionary should have been banned! :-) Well, Wikipedia links the bugger and Bulgaria through the French language which sounds sensible because the French invented the word "Bohemianism", related to the Czech Kingdom, for the gypsies. Sometimes they have rudimentary problems to distinguish various Eastern and not-quite-Eastern nations.

BTW, blonde American readers, even if they speak no French spoken in Budapest, shouldn't confuse Turkey and Hungary, even if they're hungry. :-)

Moved to Pilsen

In Fall 2010, the Entropa was bought by Techmania, a science museum in my hometown of Pilsen (the birthplace of pils beer) where I sometimes give a talk, for CZK 10 million i.e. half a million dollars or so. When I saw it - in the Techmania buildings which used to be Škoda Holding construction halls, I was amazed by the size. It's about twice as big as I expected.

Needless to say, the sculpture is completely uncensored in Pilsen. Censorship is not quite our cup of tea, especially not after those 6+42 years in the 20th century when we had enough of it. ;-)

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snail feedback (2) :

reader daBmV said...

FYI, Soviet tank No 23 never reached Prague. It was just another communistic propaganda and as per the "memorial" part, it was not coincidence that it aimed towards West Europe.

reader Unknown said...

Ha! Thanks for writing this up. The sculpture is good, rude (like most of Cerny's work) and hilarious. Google his name and look at all his work. His art is full of satire and politics -- but not the brand usually seen in modern art. (He's a strong anti-Communist). The mechanical men relieving themselves onto the map of Czechoslovakia/Czech Republic: they are writing watery text that the viewer can interrupt with their own text messages (and one installation is at the Kafka Museum!). Grand, rude, hilarious and amazing. I think he is my new favorite artist, Jonathan Swift for the 21st Century. (PS: The competition for Entropa said there would be no censorship of the final work. The Presidency has apologized to wounded the parties. The artist has apologized and said he would forgo the rental fee). So many seem NOT to get the joke.

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