Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Czech Puckishness

One thing I love about the Czechs, at least according to my impressions so far in life, deepened a bit by the last few days in Prague, is their puckishness; especially for people who have been through such a variety of bits of hell in the last generations, they maintain an entertaining sense of humour.
One piece of this was exposed during one of the walking tours I took while there; the guide had personal connections to an artist named David Cerny, and she took us from the statue at the head of Wenceslas Square of Wenceslas on his horse, looking quite the knight, to the version of this statue created by Cerny that hangs in the Lucerna arcade off the square. Here it is:

Wenceslas looks much as he does out on the square, but his horse is having problems! And Cerny apparently claims this captures some of the sense he has of how Czech society is now going.
I had to work very hard to track down another Cerny sculpture, in the gardens of the German embassy (getting a look at it required some rather curious trip around the back of the embassy site - thanks to the embassy official who told me how to do it). The story here is of the East Germans camping on the embassy grounds in the fall of 1989 looking for exit visas, and Hans-Dietrich Genscher's speech to them on September 30, announcing that they would get the exit visas they wanted. This was a key moment in the events leading to the collapse of the communist tyrannies.
How did Cerny mark this event - well, here is my shot of the sculpture that now stands in the gardens of the embassy.

I find this funny and very touching at the same time. It really does capture much of what was happening. (The car, by the way, is a Trabant.)
For more on David Cerny, and there is a lot more, try this site.

More Czech puckishness in later posts.


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