File under not surprising. "A huge outdoor art poster that blends Mickey Mouse's image with that of a swastika and a nude woman's body is causing a stir in Poland." Did we mention the naked woman? And the nearby synagogue?
To quote HuffPo's write-up of the story, the poster "is an Italian artist's take on what he calls the "horrors" of the American lifestyle and is one piece of artwork in a contemporary art exhibition opening in the fall." Adds the gallery owner who's behind it: "Art should be provocative and controversial...The Mickey Mouse head and swastika are on the same level – they don't mean anything and they are both part of the globalized world."
The courts have agreed: while some Poznan city council members have urged prosecutors to ban the poster (which has been vandalized twice), as art the piece is exempt from laws that target the glorification of Nazism. The piece, "NaziSexyMouse," has also outraged both the Jewish community and others in Poland who suffered at the hands of the Nazis.
It's an interesting corollary to the recent response to the viral YouTube video of a Holocaust survivor and his family dancing to "I Will Survive" at different concentration camps. The video has provoked especially mixed reactions in Poland, the locus of the most notorious death camps, massive loss of life, and, formerly, Europe's largest Jewish population. 'It seems to trivialise the horrors that were committed there,' one Auschwitz survivor told the Daily Mail. Overall, the video has prompted a discussion on the personal versus collective nature of grieving, the appropriation of experience - and, simply put, when it's "too soon."
Then, there's "NaziSexyMouse," which prompts none of the above. Besides anything else, can we talk about the fact that as public art this is just embarrassingly bad? The series, which artist Max Papeschi has dubbed "Politically-Incorrect" is reminiscent of the puerile Pop-Art ripoff pastiche of Mr. Brainwash (as seen in Exit Through the Gift Shop.) Or, you know, a college Freshman with Photoshop. Says one Berlin gallery manager, older folks don't get it but "for the younger generation, this painting is just a joke." That part, at least, is true.