Entropa is a satirical sculpture created by controversial Czech artist David Černý and commissioned by the government of the Czech Republic to mark the occasion of its presidency of the Council of the European Union. It was supposedly created jointly by 27 artists and artist groups from all member countries of the EU; it soon came to light, however, that it was made only by Černý and two or three assistants.
The piece was unveiled on 12 January 2009. Moving and multimedia components were activated on the formal "launch date" of 15 January 2009. It is on display in the Justus Lipsius building in Brussels; a copy of it may appear on the wall of the New Scene of the National Theatre in Prague.
The Council of the EU has a rotary presidency system, whereby the governments of member countries exchange leadership every six months. It is customary for the presiding country to place an exhibit in the Justus Lipsius building, which are normally uncontroversial. France, which held the presidency before the Czech Republic, had simply erected a large balloon in the French national colours.
The sculpture is an ironic jab at the issue of European integration and the stereotypes associated with each country. It is subtitled Stereotypes are barriers to be demolished, in accord with the Czech European Union Presidency motto of Europe without barriers. According to the artist David Černý, Entropa "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".
The work is made of GRP (the joints of steel), approximately 256 square metres (2,760 sq ft) in area (16.4 metres (54 ft) high and 16.5 metres (54 ft) wide), almost 8 tonnes (7.9 LT; 8.8 ST) heavy (of which three fourths is the frame) and was installed between 5 to 11 January 2009 in presence of David Černý, three assistants, four climbers, two technicians, two cameramen and a representative of the Czech Permanent Representation to the EU.
It resembles an unassembled model kit containing pieces in the shapes of the 27 member states of the EU. Each piece has a distinctive theme that portrays the stereotypes which the artist perceived to be the most associated with that country. Some of these are portrayed in a particularly provocative manner. Among the pieces which have attracted the most attention are those of Bulgaria, Denmark, Germany, Poland and Slovakia; see below for details on the controversy.
Note also that some of the pieces differ from the form presented in the official booklet, mostly towards greater controversy (most notably the Danish piece, which looks completely innocuous from the official photo, the animals on the Finnish piece, and the Hungarian colours on the Slovak piece).
In an interview for The Times Online, Černý stated that the sculpture was influenced by the Monty Python brand of humour. At the launch ceremony, he added Sacha Baron Cohen and Les Guignols de l'info's portrayal of Nicolas Sarkozy as other influences.
With no clear indication made by the artist nor by the official presentation, various interpretations of a single country can be drawn, and this list is by no means definite.
Austria, a known opponent of atomic energy, is a green field dominated by nuclear power plant cooling towers; vapour comes out of them at intervals
Belgium is presented as a half-full box of half-eaten Praline chocolates
Bulgaria is depicted by a series of connected "Turkish" squat toilets; neon-like lights connect and illuminate them (later hidden with fabric)
Cyprus is jigsawed (cut) in half
The Czech Republic's own piece is an LED display, which flashes controversial quotations by Czech President Václav Klaus
Denmark is built of Lego bricks, and some claim to see in the depiction a face reminiscent of the cartoon controversy, though any resemblance has been denied by the artist
Estonia is presented with a hammer and sickle-styled power tools, the country has considered a ban on Communist symbols
Finland is depicted as a wooden floor and a male with a rifle lying down, imagining an elephant and a hippo.
France is draped in a "GRÈVE!" ("STRIKE!") banner
Germany is a series of interlocking autobahns, described as "somewhat resembling a swastika", though that is not universally accepted. Cars move along the roads.
Greece is depicted as a forest that is entirely burned, possibly representing the 2007 Greek forest fires and the 2008 civil unrest in Greece.
Hungary features an Atomium made of its common agricultural products melons and Hungarian sausages, based on a floor of peppers
Ireland is depicted as a brown bog with bagpipes protruding from Northern Ireland; the bagpipes play music every five minutes
Italy is depicted as a football pitch with several players who appear to be masturbating with the footballs they each hold.
Latvia is shown as covered with mountains, in contrast to its actual flat landscape
Lithuania a series of dressed Manneken Pis-style figures urinating on its eastern neighbours; the streams of urine are presented by a yellow lighting glass fibers
Luxembourg is displayed as a gold nugget with "For Sale" tag
Malta is a tiny island with its prehistoric dwarf elephant as its only decoration; there's a magnifying glass in front of the elephant
The Netherlands has disappeared under the sea with only several minarets still visible; the piece is supposed to emit the singing of muezzins
Poland has a piece with priests erecting the rainbow flag of the Gay rights movement, in the style of the U.S. Marines raising the Stars and Stripes at Iwo Jima.
Portugal is shown as a wooden cutting board with three pieces of meat in the shape of its former colonies of Brazil, Angola, and Mozambique
Romania is a Dracula-style theme park, which is set up to blink and emit ghostly sounds at intervals.
Slovakia is depicted as a Hungarian sausage (or a human body tightened by Hungarian tricolour)
Slovenia is shown as a rock engraved with the words first tourists came here 1213
Spain is covered entirely in concrete, with a concrete mixer situated in the northeast
Sweden does not have an outline, but is represented as a large Ikea-style self-assembly furniture box, containing Gripen fighter planes (as supplied to the Czech Air Force)
The United Kingdom, known for its Euroscepticism and relative isolation from the Continent, is "included" as missing piece (an empty space) at the top-left