David Cerny - "Faking It for the Nation"

Open Lecture

The rotating Presidency of the Council of the European Union offers the incumbent nation a platform from which to leverage its political, economic and cultural presence in the European Union. When the Czech Republic took over that office in January 2009 (notably as only the second Eastern European country to do so), Europe was given the chance to witness Czech art and artists on the transnational scene: the installation Entropa, produced by the Czech artist David Černý to commemorate the event, reached newspapers headlines all over Europe. The installation, which had supposedly been produced by 27 artists representing the 27 European countries, was, in fact, the work of a single artist. The work itself bravely addressed complex issues of European integration and cultural identity.

The hoax that unwrapped itself so elegantly before hundreds of millions of spectators originated from a part of Europe where such hoaxes have a long and culturally embedded history; quite often they have played a significant role in a nation’s development. The theme of non-existent authors and non-existent works were often seen to be the result of a type of humour that suggests that Czechs have an unusually prominent ability to laugh at themselves. As such, could the invention, the fabrication, of past and/or present cultural landmarks be assumed to constitute a facet of Czech cultural identity itself? In other words, could national identity be constituted by the acknowledged fact that it is based on falsification? And, if so, could this in fact constitute a more honest view of national identity? Such questions will be explored by Ewelina Warner, followed by a presentation by David Černý, who will speak about his installation Entropa, and his wider practice.

The lecture will be followed by drinks sponsored by the Czech Centre London


Related Projects

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    TrAIN Open Series

    The TrAIN Open series is a forum for invited speakers to present exhibition, publication, and research projects in the form of lectures, discussions and screenings.

    Taking place at fortnightly intervals on Wednesday evenings during the academic term, the series is open to the public, as well as staff and students across the University of the Arts London.
    Find out more about TrAIN Open Series

Related People

  • David Černý

    Guest Speaker

    David Černý is a Czech sculptor, born in Prague in 1967. After studying at the Academy of Applied Arts in Prague (1988-94) he moved to New York, as artist in residence at the PS1 gallery (1994-95) and to do the Whitney Independent Study Programme (1995-96).
    Find out more about David Černý


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