An EU-themed version of The Origin of the World has caused red faces in Austria, just days before it takes over the presidency of the European Union. Even worse was a spoof poster of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth having sex with the US and French presidents. It is one of a series of 150 pictures displayed in Vienna as part of a public art project. Artists from across the bloc contributed images on a range of subjects.
It caused outrage in the media and among politicians. The art project called ‘25peaces’ has received around one million euros from the Austrian government for the display. Organisers deny charges of pornography but say some of the pictures will be taken down over the coming days. Salzburg governor Gabi Burgstaller said she wants to see the pictures withdrawn. “They are no good for Europe and they are misogynist,” she added.
But Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel said he could not order the removal of the posters as it was an independent artistic project. However he has appealed to the designers to withdraw the images. Austria is due to take over the rotating presidency of the EU from Britain on January 1. In fact only three of the 150 pictures have sexual overtones. Their creators say they reflect the different social, historical and political developments in Europe.