On 20th January one piece of David Černý’s sculpture – the Bulgarian map presented as a “Turkish toilet” – was covered by a black fabric. Indeks 73 has prepared an on-line petition against this act of censorship. We are appealing to the Bulgarian authorities to remove the black fabric from the “Entropa” and join the broad debate about real European problems.
On the ceremony of launching David Černý’s Entropa Mr. Alexandr Vondra, Czech Deputy Prime Minister, declared that “twenty years after the fall of the Iron Curtain there is no place for censorship in Europe”. One week later the integral art work was damaged by a black curtain. As Sofia News Agency Novinite reported on 20th January: “The step has been taken after Bulgaria’s permanent Representation at the European Institutions has issued an official objection to the work, displayed at the European Council building in Brussels.”
Entropa has raised a lot of reaction and interventions on the highest political level, in the European media, broad public and among professionals in the cultural field. Indeks 73 has already described the case and followed its consequences (see: David Černý’s joke in Brussels). Having faced now the act of censorship, we have prepared a petition to the Bulgarian authorities to protest against the restriction of free artistic expression. We strongly support Černý’s constitutional right to the provocative voice, as we believe that art has the power to influence and change our reality. An honest debate on real intern European problems, such as discrimination or national clichés, can not be hidden any more or replaced by irresponsible censorship demands.
The voice of cultural sector should be heard in the broader public, not only in our internal, theoretical discussions. We would like to encourage the cultural operators to express their solidarity with the message of David Černý’s “Entropa”.
The on-line petition can be signed till 16 February 2009. Then we would summarise and publish it on our portal. You are welcome as well to prepare your personal comments / letters and send it back to us on email@example.com
Gdansk / Warszawa, 26.01.2009
President of Bulgaria, Mr. Georgi Parvanov
Bulgarian Prime Minister, Mr. Sergei Stanishev
Bulgarian Minister of Culture, Mr. Stefan Danailov
For the attention of:
Mr. David Černý
Czech Deputy Prime Minister for EU Affairs, Mr. Alexandr Vondra
OPEN LETTER to Bulgarian authorities
We, the undersigned, are deeply concerned about your decision to cover the piece “Turkish toilet” of David Černý’s sculpture “Entropa. Stereotypes are barriers to be demolished” launched on 15 January 2009 in the Council of the European Union.
The demand to curtain the part of the integral artistic installation with a black fabric is nothing else than the act of censorship directed against the Art. 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Art. 23 of the Constitution of the Republic of Bulgaria, which guarantees that “the State shall establish conditions conducive to the free development of science, education and the arts, and shall assist that development”.
Europe lacks critical reflection on controversial topics. The real debate respecting opposing voices from different cultures, mentalities and ambitions has disappeared from political agendas. Therefore, we strongly support David Černý’s right to his provocative voice, which opens the debate on our intern European problems (poverty, discrimination, corruption etc.). We should not kill the essence of “Entropa” by hysterical reactions or hypocritical gestures of national pride.
We are appealing to You to remove the black fabric from the “Entropa” and join the broad debate about real European problems. David Černý’s self-irony and the famous Czech sense of humour might be of great help. As he has proved with “Entropa”, art has the power to provoke serious discussion and reactions, which reveal a lot of hidden mechanisms in contemporary art practice, media and power strategies.
Czech Deputy Prime Minister Alexandr Vondra declared on the “Entropa” launching: “twenty years after the fall of the Iron Curtain there is no place for censorship in Europe.” And we hope we will be able to see his words come true.
Indeks 73, Polish initiative aimed at protecting freedom of artistic expression:
Izabela Kowalczyk, PhD. (art critic and theoretician, WSHiD Poznan),
Agnieszka Kaim (social activist, Kultura Miejska Gdansk),
Lidia Makowska (art and social activist, Kultura Miejska Gdansk),
Ewa Majewska, PhD. (philosopher, Gender Studies Uniwersytet Warszawski),
Daniel Muzyczuk (art historian, curator, Contemporary Art Centre Torun),
Jacek Niegoda (artist),
Roman Pawłowski (journalist, theatre critic, Gazeta Wyborcza Warszawa)
Sign the petition
„Entropa: art of politics, heart of a nation”. A Czech artist’s Europe-wide hoax stirred particular outrage in a troubled Bulgaria. But the affair reveals deeper truths about the country – and about art itself, says Dessy Gavrilova, a founder-director of The Red House – Center for Culture and Debate in Sofia, Bulgaria.
Similar petition has been prepared in Slovenia: