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Bulgarian Artists Invite David Cerny to Exhibit in Sofia

Date: 09.10.2009

The Union of Bulgarian Artists issued Friday an official invitation to controversial Czech artist, David Cerny, to display his work in Sofia.

In an open letter to the media, signed by the Union’s Chair, Ivaylo Mirchev, they say Cerny can exhibit at the Shipka 6 gallery in downtown Sofia what he was supposed to show in Banyia Starinna in Plovdiv.

On Tuesday, Slavcho Atanasov, Mayor of Bulgaria’s second largest city Plovdiv, banned Cerny's upcoming exhibit. His decision came on the heels of a declaration of municipal councilors from the nationalist Ataka party saying it is unacceptable for the man who depicted Bulgaria as a Turkish toilet to be welcomed in the country.

Cerny's exhibit is part of the project of local curator, Emil Marazchiev, titled European Art 20 years after the Iron Curtain.

In a Friday interview for the morning block of the TV channel bTV, Atanasov informed he was going to send two policemen to guard the entrance of Banyia Starinna.

The letter of the Artists’ Union further points out that Cerny can display his art in Sofia on October 10 instead of Plovdiv without any danger of being harassed by the police and being involved in any restrictions and scandals.

The artists further state they are sending the letter because the wish to protect the right of free artistic expression, which has nothing to do with the likes and dislikes of certain individuals.

In the meantime, Bulgaria's Prime Minister, Boyko Borisov, stated he was going to meet with Cerny Sunday in Sofia because he deems important that people know Bulgaria is a democratic country and does not censor any expression of artists and intellectuals.

The Czech Republic, which recently gave up the six-month presidency of the European Union, and Bulgaria are still reeling from the scandal caused by Cerny's satire of European stereotypes in an installation at the European Council building in Brussels called Entropa.

The piece, which was mounted in January, was supposed to proudly display unique traits of each country in the union. Instead, it depicted Bulgaria as a Turkish toilet, Catholic Poland as a group of priests raising a gay flag and Germany as a network of motorways resembling a swastika.

Only Bulgaria protested against the way it has been depicted, which resulted in the toilet being draped in a black cloth, making it even more visible.

It is believed Cerny plans to put on stage at the upcoming exhibit namely this black cloth.

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