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Culture Europe

Bulgaria secures Prague's apology for 'offensive' artwork

Video by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2009-01-16

The Czech artwork picturing Bulgaria as a squat toilet, part of the controversial Entropa exhibition, was singled out by Sofia as offensive. The Czech Republic has officially apologised and agreed to remove the piece should Bulgaria wish so.

AFP - The Czech EU presidency apologised Thursday to Bulgaria for any offence caused by an official artwork portraying the country as a squat toilet, saying the image would be removed if Sofia insists.
  
"I apologise to Bulgaria and its government if it feels offended, and I think we are certainly ready to engage in a dialogue," Czech Deputy Prime Minister Alexandr Vondra told reporters at the unveiling of the massive "Entropa" exhibit in the grand foyer of the main EU Council building.
  
"If you stand by your request to remove it, of course we will certainly do that," he added, addressing a Bulgarian diplomat attending the ceremony.
  
However Vondra did not contemplate taking down the whole art work which also shows France as "on Strike".
  
The map shows Italy transformed into a giant football pitch with players holding strategically-placed footballs, while the German part of the exhibit has a hint of a swastika about it.
  
Britain is totally absent from the artist's view of Europe.
  
The sprawling work, which covers 170 square feet (16 square metres), was commissioned by the Czechs, who assumed the EU presidency for six months on January 1.
  
The idea had been that an artist from each of the 27 EU member states would depict their own country, however Czech artist David Cerny has admitted to making it himself with a couple of associates.
  
Sofia has taken most offence at the work and is insisting at least the part of the artwork depicting Bulgaria be removed.
  
"I cannot accept to see a toilet on the map of my country. This is not the face of Bulgaria," Betina Joteva, first secretary for the Bulgarian office to the EU, complained.
  
Cerny, who attended the grand opening, apologised as well and said he would agree to the removal of the offending Bulgarian item, even if he would prefer the piece to remain intact.
  
While apologising for any offence he also defended the work as being in the great tradition of European satire, citing the 1960s British television series Mont Python's Flying Circus, the "Borat" character created by British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen and the French TV political puppetry of "Les Guignols".

Date created : 2009-01-15

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