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Spain's European Union Art Installation by Daniel Canogar Sidesteps Controversy
People stand under a LED screen art installation called "Travesias" by Spanish artist Daniel Canogar at the European Council building in Brussels January 5, 2010. REUTERS/Thierry Roge.

By: Luke Baker

BRUSSELS (REUTERS).- Spain played it safe as it unveiled an artwork to represent its European Union presidency on Tuesday, avoiding the controversy of a year ago when the Czech Republic managed to offend most of the EU.

Spain presented a video installation by artist Daniel Canogar consisting of a looping, flowing LED screen more than 30 meters long that shows images of people walking or crawling along, each of them shot by an overhead camera.

Canogar said the work, which will hang in the atrium of the main summit building in Brussels for the next six months, represented the "profound territorial, economic and social transformations" that the EU has undergone in recent years.

"The work ... is an expression of the continual sense of movement with which Spain would like to provide the EU's cultural policy," Spain's EU presidency said at a ceremony to unveil the work on Tuesday.

The verdict of those who attended the ceremony was that the piece, called "Travesias," was at best interesting, but had at least avoided causing offence or a diplomatic incident.

Last January, the Czech Republic presented a vast, colorful mosaic that tried to poke fun at national stereotypes but instead managed to offend a good number of EU member states.

A map of France was emblazoned with the word "GREVE!" (French for strike) in red, while Romania was depicted as a Dracula theme park, Sweden as a do-it-yourself furniture flatpack and Bulgaria as the floor of a toilet.

Britain, often criticized for a lack of EU engagement, did not appear at all, while Denmark was made of Lego.

The mosaic caused so much offence that Bulgaria registered an official complaint and the Czech Republic, which had been an EU member for barely five years, was prompted to apologize. The artist said he was sorry that no one seemed to get the joke.

By comparison, Spain's installation is likely to be a relief to all the EU's 27 member states.

However, if the artwork is supposed to depict the EU's transformation in the past years, some may wonder why the LED screens trace the pattern of a rollercoaster, complete with a stomach-churning loop-the-loop in the middle.

(Editing by Louise Ireland)


Daniel Canogar | Spain's European Union Art Installation | Diplomatic Incident |


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