Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The UN: A Spectacular waste of money and air...

Spanish artist Miquel Barcelo works in 'Hall XX' at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland.

I'm all for art and all, but this is ridiculous.

United Nations diplomats searching for bright ideas will soon be able to look to the ceiling for inspiration. Spanish artist Miquel Barcelo has just completed a mammoth redecorating job - using 100 tons of paint - at its European headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.

The 51-year-old artist has spent more than a year painting the chamber's 1,500 sq m domed ceiling and described the results as like watching 'the sea's surface above your head'. Known as Room XX, the chamber will house the United Nations Human Rights Council after it is officially unveiled next week.

The eye-catching project is the first initiative of the newly formed Fundacion ONUART, an organisation dedicated to using Spanish contemporary art to the ends of diplomacy.

The redecorated chamber will become the UN's most modern negotiating room, using the latest materials and technology in audiovisual resources, conference services, interpretation systems, information technology and telecommunications.

How much did this arty, little boondoggle cost our Spanish amigos?

The budget for the work approved by the United Nations Foundation was 18.5 million € with the option to deviate 10% from that amount. The Spanish permanent representative at the United Nations, Javier Garrigues, confirmed the amount, saying the total cost, of the art work, engineering, artists fee and other items reaches 20 million.

The artist has commented that he hoped the funding for the work had not taken money ‘from the mouths of the poor’ following the revelation that part of the work has been financed by the Spanish Government using development funds. Garrigues confirmed that 500,000 € came from the FAD Development Fund, justified by the fact that the artwork went to the promotion of human rights and multilateralism.

View the slideshow here.