Friday, January 16, 2009

entropy in europe


Entropy in Europe is no hoax.
Europe is Entropa, one Czech jokes,
in the spirit of good soldier Schwejk,
insisting that all fools should take a hike,
describing Italy as somewhere where
autoerotic climaxes are rare,
while France, less like an auto than a bike,
likes sex au pair, except when it’s on strike.
Germany’s a land of highways shaped
like swastikas, fascistically landscaped
wherever Germans drive to look for bargains
in their Mercedes, Porsches and Volkswagens.
Bulgaria is a toilet on the ground
with holes, while Holland, which is drowned,
has only minarets because the dikes
have leaked, except for those a lesbian likes.
Luxembourg’s depicted as a lump
of gold, and has a sign that says, “For sale,”
while Lithuanians standing near a dump
called Russia use it as a urine pail.
Britain’s been removed, perhaps for re-
construction now it doesn’t rule the sea.
Laughing at itself, can Europe be
a continent where everyone is free?
It can, I think, unless someone upsets
the people listening to minarets
when they are broadcasting calls of their muezzins
whose programs are not European lessons.

Sarah Lyall writes about a mosaic that has been installed in the European Council building in Brussels, symbolizing the glory of a united Europe (“Art Hoax United Europe in Displeasure,” NYT, January 15, 2009):
Why didn’t anyone realize right away that there was something seriously weird about the new piece of art in Brussels? The piece, an enormous mosaic installed in the European Council building over the weekend, was meant to symbolize the glory of a unified Europe by reflecting something special about each country in the European Union. But wait. Here is Bulgaria, represented as a series of crude, hole-in-the-floor toilets. Here is the Netherlands, subsumed by floods, with only a few minarets peeping out from the water. Luxembourg is depicted as a tiny lump of gold marked by a “for sale” sign, while five Lithuanian soldiers are apparently urinating on Russia. France? On strike. The 172-square-foot, eight-ton installation, titled “Entropa,” consists of a sort of puzzle formed by the geographical shapes of European countries. It was proudly commissioned by the Czech Republic to mark the start of its six-month presidency of the European Union. But the Czechs made the mistake of hiring the artist David Cerny to put together the project. Mr. Cerny is notorious for thumbing his nose at the establishment. He was arrested in 1991 for painting a tank, a Soviet war memorial in a Prague square, bright pink. In the case of “Entropa,” Mr. Cerny presented the piece as the work of 27 artists, one from each country. But it was all a huge hoax… After being challenged by reporters this week, Mr. Cerny admitted that he and two of his friends constructed the whole thing themselves, making up the names of artists, giving some of them Web sites and writing pretentious, absurd statements to go with their supposed contributions. For example, next to the piece for Italy — depicted as a huge soccer field with little soccer players on it — it says, “It appears to be an autoerotic system of sensational spectacle with no climax in sight.” The fake British entry, a kit of Europe in which the piece representing Britain has been taken out, says, “This improvement of exactness means that its individual selective sieve can cover the so-called objective sieve.”….The work has undoubtedly upset other people, too. The Germans are probably not too thrilled that their country is represented as a series of highways that, looked at a certain way, possibly bring to mind a swastika. Spain has to settle with being a huge construction site, while Romania is shown as a Dracula-themed amusement park….According to the Czech News Agency, the Bulgarian government — the one whose country is shown as a bunch of toilets — summoned the Czech ambassador in Sofia to lodge an official protest. Meanwhile, the Bulgarian permanent representative to the European Union was quoted as saying: “It is preposterous, a disgrace. It is a humiliation for the Bulgarian nation and an offense to our national dignity.” The Czechs have said that they are not sure what steps they will take before the official unveiling, scheduled for Thursday. As for Mr. Cerny, on his Web site he said, “We knew the truth would come out.” He added, “But before that we wanted to find out if Europe is able to laugh at itself.”

© 2009 Gershon Hepner 1/15/09

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