Bulgaria rows with EU presidency over ‘toilet’ artefact

The Czech EU Presidency has been officially requested to remove a representation of Bulgaria as a “Turkish toilet” from a sculpture symbolising European countries located in the entrance hall of the Council of the European Union, writes Dnevnik, EURACTIV’s partner in Bulgaria.

The driving concept behind the controversial eight-tonne sculpture ‘Entropa’ is the depiction of EU countries on the basis of mass stereotypes. 

Some countries receive better treatment than others, with Belgium represented as a box of chocolates and Denmark as a Lego structure. But France is symbolised by a poster declaring “On strike!”, Poland by Catholic popes planting a flag symbolising homosexuality in a parody of the iconic Iwo Jima sculpture, and Italy as a football playground where players are seemingly masturbating. 

Bulgaria appears to have drawn the short straw after being represented as a “Turkish toilet”, a simple hygienic facility comprising two footsteps and a hole. As the country was under Ottoman domination for some 500 years, the allegory proved all the more offensive and triggered mass resentment in Bulgaria. Hundreds reacted in blogs or online via newspaper websites, while a so-called ’cause’ against the depiction has been launched on Facebook, a social networking website. 

Bulgaria also reacted at official level, with the Czech ambassador to Sofia summoned to the foreign ministry and asked to remove the sculpture. 

At first, Czech representatives tried to play down the furore, describing the depiction as Czech humour. But it soon became apparent that designer of the sculpture, David Cerny, had cheated his country’s authorities. Instead of presenting a mosaic featuring creations by artists in remaining 26 countries, Cerny apparently made the artefacts himself, using fictitious identities to present them as the creations of other artists. 

Czech Deputy Prime Minister Alexandr Vondra, responsible for European affairs, issued an official statement via the Czech Presidency website deploring Cerny’s expolits. 

“In this situation, we are now considering further steps,” the statement reads. 

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