January 14, 2009

Nothing Stings Quite Like The Truth

The Czech Republic began its six-month term as the rotating host nation for the EU Presidency in January. So that means that bureaucrats, lawyers, legislators, and other politicians from around Europe are all traveling to Prague to conduct business. And when they do, they're seeing art that the Czechs have placed on public display, including the piece by David Cerny which is the subject of this article.

Cerny's piece, "Entropa," provides a graphical description of various EU countries. Except for the UK, which is conspicuous by its absence (reflecting Britain's vacillation about joining its continental sister nations and adopting use of the Euro). Some of it is immature, like the depiction of Romania as a Disneyland-style Count Dracula-themed roller coaster ride. But my favorite piece has to be France: "Grève" is French for "On strike." Which it seems someone in France always is, causing all sorts of annoyances when you want to do things in or concerning France like, say, send mail or buy something. But what can you do? Thirty-four hour work weeks, free health care, and mandatory month-long vacations are simply not enough for the oppressed and hardworking French laborer. Vive le prolétariat.

Oh, sure, he could have depicted France as a hexagon or a fleur-de-lis or used Marianne. But that's been done. This is much more contemporary -- and, bitingly accurate, which makes it funny.

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