Stage News

Artist says duped Czech govt over EU mosaic

PRAGUE (Reuters) - A Czech artist behind a mosaic that uses stereotypes to depict EU member states said he had deceived the government over the work, commissioned to mark the Czech Republic’s EU presidency.

People inspect a mosaic displaying representations about the European Union member countries in the EU Council Headquarters in Brussels January 12, 2009. REUTERS/Sebastien Pirlet

The Czech government said it was reviewing what to do with the work, due to be officially unveiled in Brussels on Thursday, and condemned artist David Cerny for his actions.

“An agreement of the office of the government with the artist clearly stated that this will be a common work of artists from 27 EU states,” Deputy Prime Minister Alexandr Vondra said.

“The full responsibility for violating this assignment and this promise lies with David Cerny,” he said in a statement.

The puzzle formed by geographical shapes of EU states decorates a building where EU leaders hold their summits and shows France as being on strike, Romania as a Dracula theme-park and Bulgaria as a rudimentary toilet.

The 8-tonne puzzle, entitled “Entropa,” was supposed to be the work of 27 artists from all the EU member states and was presented to the government with a brochure on each artist.

But after being challenged by the Czech media, Cerny acknowledged he had made up the names and that he made the mosaic with two friends.

“We knew the truth would come out. But before that we wanted to find out if Europe is able to laugh at itself,” Cerny said.

Cerny is no stranger to controversy. In the early 1990s, he was briefly prosecuted for painting a Soviet tank pink, and later he sat national patron saint Wenceslas on a dead horse.

Vondra said the government would say on Thursday what action it intended to take over the project. Bulgaria has condemned its portrayal as bad taste and demanded its image be removed.

The mosaic also depicts the Netherlands as a flooded land with only tops of minarets sticking out, possibly a reference to the simmering religious tensions. Britain, perceived as one of bloc’s most eurosceptic members, is missing altogether.

Reporting by Jan Lopatka; Additional reporting by Anna Mudeva in Sofia; Editing by Jon Boyle