The baby, 2001. The sum total of ten of David Černý’s babies, 350 centimetres long and 260 centimetres tall, have been put up on different sites in Prague. This one, along with two others, on Kampa.

Il Commendatore, 2000, Anna Chromy (b 1940).

Bronze sculpture in memory of Mozart’s Don Giovanni premiere in Prague on 29 October 1787, put up in front of the National theatre, in which it premiered.

Ai Weiwei: Law of the Journey

 

Visited (in the Prague National Gallery, Trade Fair Palace) on 21 October 2017.

The exhibition Law of the Journey is Ai Weiwei’s multi-layered, epic statement on the human condition: an artist’s expression of empathy and moral concern in the face of continuous, uncontrolled destruction and carnage. Hosted in a building of symbolic historical charge – a former 1928 Trade Fair Palace which in 1939–1941 served as an assembly point for Jews before their deportation to the concentration camp in Terezín [aka Theresienstadt, blogger’s remark] – it works as a site-specific parable, a form of (public) speech, carrying a transgressive power of cathartic experience, but also a rhetoric of failure, paradox and resignation. Like Noah’s Ark, a monumental rubber boat is a contemporary vessel of forced exodus, floating hopelessly within the immense, oceanic abyss of the Gallery’s post-industrial, cathedral-like Big Hall. Set for a journey across the unknown and the infinite, an overcrowded life raft carries ‘the vanguard of their people’, as Hannah Arendt described the illegal and the stateless in her seminal 1943 essay, We Refugees: over 300 figures, squeezed within the confines of a temporary shelter, undertake a journey ‘far out into the unnavigated’, fleeing violence and danger.

— Source: The Prague National Gallery

All pictures blogger’s own.

Let Catalonia remain occupied, if they so desire

I like Spain. Not only because I’ve visited several times and quite like it there, but also because I favour unity over separatism, which goes for Spain as for any other country, as well as my beloved homeland, Europe.

However, we should remember that the late generalissimo Francisco Franco remains in high esteem among many a Spaniard. Also his Guardia Civil‘s conduct during the Catalan referendum weeks ago, immediately woke my sympathy for the Catalan separatists – and their demand for independence.

With that said, I find separatism a bad idea, just as I find unity a good one, which includes Catalonia and Spain. Nevertheless, there are a couple of factors that we need to take into account.

What ever the outcome, the international community needs to ensure that democracy prevails. Today we hear claims that the Catalan referendum was illegal, rendering, therefore, the declaration of independence equally illegal, but is that actually the case?

  1. We need to remember that the declaration was made, not by the referendum, illegal or not, but by the legally elected Catalan parliament. Whether or not that decision was based on the referendum, it was indeed made by the Catalan people’s legally elected representatives. As the case always is, when ever democracy is at work.
  2. We’ve heard claims that a new referendum would have to be held throughout Spain, in order to secure the referendum’s legitimacy. To which I should perhaps remark that:
    1. The minute you assign an overwhelming majority the task of deciding a minority’s future, how could you possibly expect an outcome favouring anyone but the majority?
    2. Said majority is an occupant, insofar that Spain invaded, occupied and annexed Catalonia in 1714, rendering Spain a de facto occupying force. Since when did international law condone an occupying country’s right to decide the fate of the occupied?

These are all facts that we need to keep in mind, whether we favour Catalan separatism or not. Personally I do not, but if we are to discuss these matters, I think it’s only fair that we do so on the basis of facts.

Illustration: The Estelada blava. The Catalan flag. Blogger’s own drawing.

I posted the above picture last year, following our last visit to Prague, with an intention to look up the Museum of Communism the next time we visited the city – which turned out to happen sooner than I expected – about a week ago, to be precise. So made good on promise to self, and shot a few pictures (below).

I shan’t go into details, except maybe by drawing your attention to last week’s RTI Sunday special, Prague edition, in which I described the museum in some detail.

A classic Czech Čezeta 502 scooter, shot in the Národní galerie v Praze in Prague last week.

The original design of the Čezeta is unique amongst scooters. It is unusually long for a two-wheeled vehicle at 2 metres and has a distinctive torpedo-shaped body with full length running boards and a long seat that lifted to reveal a substantial luggage compartment, using space that in most scooters is occupied by the fuel tank. This made the Čezeta ideal for two people and popular with young Czechs and their lovers. The front mudguard is fixed to the body and fully streamlined into the leg shields. The fuel tank is positioned above the front wheel, with the headlight fitted into a recess and a luggage rack on the flat top surface.

From Wikipedia (click here for more).

Czech art

A very careful selection of Czech artists, from our visit in the Prague National Gallery the other day. More likely to follow, if not from the National Gallery.

P.S. Please note that some of the pictures were shot under challenging light conditions.

Overlooking the Vltava river and central Prague, you find the semi-functional Metronome in the Letná park, instead of the massive Joseph Stalin sculpture, taken down in 1962. The 23-metre-tall Metronome, however, wasn’t erected until 1991, following the late 1989 Velvet revolution, designed by Vratislav Novak.

More on Communism in a later post on my Museum of Communism visit a couple of days ago.

Czech Bauhaus – or rather: Functionalism

Visited the Prague National gallery yesterday, the Veletržní palác, to be precise, built in 1928, and according to local sources the first public functionalist building ever to be built, which I find a little hard to believe, seeing as the Staatliches Bauhaus started in Weimar back in 1919 (most readers will, however, associate the school with Dessau and the iconic Bauhaus building there, built between 1925 and 1926).

Architects: Josef Fuchs and Oldřich Tyl, who worked on the project between 1925 and 1928.

Be that as it may, I hope you’ll enjoy the pictures (and this video clip). Exhibited works of art in a later post.

One quick addendum, though. The gallery burnt down in 1974, only to be rebuilt few years later – with the original style intact.

As self-declared inventor of the word «fake» (true story!), perhaps the current U.S. president should be wary of how he himself is seen, because while no supporter of the Mexican wall – or the Obamacare repeal and replacement, I cannot help wondering how the Donald’s two urgent-most measures seem less feasible than any other.

Photo: U.S. President Donald Trump. Detail from official White house portrait.