The story begins with a sculpture commissioned by the Czech Republic for the start of its EU presidency. Set in the atrium of the European Council in Brussels, the sprawling piece is a collection of maps of the EU member states, each sculpted by a native artist to represent not just the geography, but the essence of his or her country.
What follows is pure genius: the sculpted map of France is covered by a giant “On Strike!” banner. The Netherlands is entirely under water, with five minarets poking above the surface. Luxembourg is a gold nugget, covered by a “For Sale” sign. Sweden is an IKEA flatpack. Lithuania is represented by three statues, all pissing on Russia. And England? Nowhere to be found, just like in the Union.
As for the twenty-seven artists who supposedly created the piece? They’re all a hoax, the product of David Cerny’s imagination — inspired, according to the Times, by the humor of Monty Python.
The Czechs say they have no intention of removing the piece, as everybody seems to me taking it with good humor. Everybody, that is, but the Bulgarians:
I guess it takes more than a hundred years of independence from the Ottoman Empire to be able to laugh about being depicted as a Turkish toilet.
Update: For a photo of the sculpture, see this FP Passport post. I’m not sure I agree with Joshua Keating’s conclusion that Brussels and European nations aren’t capable of a sense of humor and ironic self-reflection, though.