This has got to be up there with one of the most bizarre EU subsidy related stories of recent times. Dutch website Duurzaam Nieuws reported last month that Dutch artist Jeroen van Dam has received an EU grant totalling €96,000 for his piece, entitled “Recyclution”, which consists of an oil drum filled with elephant manure (see video). In the words of the artist, it is intended to demonstrate the way in which governments suffocate nature, and also refuse to support the arts and culture sector. He argues that: “Especially in these times of cutbacks, art must make a stand against indifference”.
However, van Dam says he will not exhibit the work to the wider public because he considers this to be “old-fashioned”. He added that he had applied for the grant for “Recyclution” a long time ago, but only received the money recently. In the artists’ own words:
“We were surprised… frankly we were no longer counting [on it]. This proves how slow these sorts of European funding streams are.”
As if the story was already not strange enough, it was then picked up by a couple mainstream Dutch newspapers, including Volkskrant and Elsevier but with an added twist. Greek MEP Georgios Koumoutsakos was allegedly quoted as saying that art subsidies for richer member states were unacceptable at a time when Greeks were protesting on the streets due to the difficult economic conditions. Such a reaction from Greek politicians, angry about the EU-imposed austerity programme was not implausible, however it later emerged that this was a hoax, and that Koumoutsakos had not issued any such statement.
Now, we have not confirmed whether the artist is correct in suggesting that he actually did recieve EU funding. But pretty surreal regardless…
Update 16:15 We have just received a tip-off that the whole story is a hoax, not just the response from the Greek MEP.