Europe is unified by its history, cultureand, in recent years, also by a jointlycreated political structure. More orless diverse countries are intertwinedby a network of multi-dimensionalrelationships that, in effect, resultsin an intricate whole. From within,we tend to focus on the differencesbetween the individual Europeancountries. These differences includethousands of important and unimportantthings ranging from geographicalsituation to gastronomy and everydayhabits.
The EU puzzle is both a metaphorand a celebration of this diversity.It comprises the building blocks ofthe political, economic and culturalrelationships with which we 'toy'but which will be passed on to ourchildren. The task of today is to createbuilding blocks with the best possiblecharacteristics.
Self-reflection, critical thinking andthe capacity to perceive oneself aswell as the outside world with a senseof imny are the hallmarks of Europeanthinking. This art project that originatedon the occasion of Czech Presidencyof the Council of the EuropeanUnion attempts to present Europe asa whole from the perspectives of 27artists from the individual EU MemberStates. Their projects share the playfulanalysis of national stereotypesas well as original characteristicsof the individual cultural identities.
That much is stated in an official booklet of the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs. However Entropa is not a real pan-European work by artists-provocateurs, but a mystification. At first glance, it looks like a project to decorate official space, which has degenerated to an unhindered display of national traumas and complexes. Individual states in the European Union puzzle are presented by non-existent artists. They have their names, artificially created identities, and some have their own Web sites. Each of them is the author of a text explaining their motivation to take part in the common project. That all was created by David Cerny, Kristof Kintera and Tomas Pospiszyl, with the help of a large team of colleagues from the Czech Republic and abroad.
The original intention was indeed to ask 27 European artists for participation. But it became apparent that this plan cannot be realised, due to time, production, and financial constraints. The team therefore, without the knowledge of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, decided to create fictitious artists who would represent various European national and artistic stereotypes. We apologise to Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek, Deputy Prime Minister Alexandr Vondra, Minister Karel Schwarzenberg and their departments that we did not inform them of the true state of affairs and thus misguided them. We did not want them to bear the responsibility for this kind of politically incorrect satire. We knew the truth would come out. But before that we wanted to find out if Europe is able to laugh at itself.
At the beginning stood the question: What do we really know about Europe? We have information about some states, we only know various tourist clichés about others. We know basically nothing about several of them. The art works, by artificially constructed artists from the 27 EU countries, show how difficult and fragmented Europe as a whole can seem from the perspective of the Czech Republic. We do not want to insult anybody, just point at the difficulty of communication without having the ability of being ironic.
Grotesque hyperbole and mystification belongs among the trademarks of Czech culture and creating false identities is one of the strategies of contemporary art. The images of individual parts of Entropa use artistic techniques often characterised by provocation. The piece thus also lampoons the socially activist art that balances on the verge between would-be controversial attacks on national character and undisturbing decoration of an official space. We believe that the environment of Brussels is capable of ironic self-reflection, we believe in the sense of humour of European nations and their representatives.