Arts festival brightens up concrete jungle of Prague's Jižní Město

Scores of pre-fabricated apartment blocks know as "paneláky" make Jižní Město one of Prague’s greyest suburbs. Currently, however, a festival called Street for Art is bringing a splash of colour to the concrete jungle. Alongside a temporary gallery called BLOX, it features a range of outdoor events including a farmers’ market and guided bus tour. Jiří Sulženko, one of the organizers of Street for Art, explained what led them establish the festival three years ago.

Blox, photo: www.jizak.info/streetforartBlox, photo: www.jizak.info/streetforart “We came to suburbs or Jižní Město three years ago to run a cultural centre called Zahrada and we quickly found out that it is difficult for people to come in to our place. So it was kind of a strategic decision to go out and meet them in the streets. And suddenly all the ideas developed in this festival of art in public space, which for us was an important topic, because it’s a vast space, it’s open, its bare, it’s ready to be used and people don’t use it.”

Is the programme directly linked to this place, to Jižní Město, which is one of the biggest housing estates in Prague?

Photo: www.jizak.info/streetforartPhoto: www.jizak.info/streetforart “It’s actually the biggest housing estate in the Czech Republic with 80 thousand inhabitants and of course we want to focus on local people and want them to enjoy the festival but we try to open the topic in a broad way and make it interesting for any other people from any other place, from Prague, from the Czech Republic, from Europe.”

So what is on the programme this year? Is there any central topic to the festival?

“We always try to build some kind of architectural icon for the festival. Last year we have invited Raumlabor Studio from Berlin who brought this inflatable bubble. This year we decided to build BLOX, a temporary art centre, built from containers or building models in three storeis and we hope to make an icon of the festival as well.”

What else is on the programme? You said you wanted to get out in the streets…

Photo: www.jizak.info/streetforartPhoto: www.jizak.info/streetforart “We would love to get rid of the barriers that are preventing people to meet with art. This is why we do free concerts, this is why we do a farmers’ market, this is why we do workshops in the streets - graffiti workshops open to young people and guided tour through Jižní město. These are the things that try to establish a relationship of people who live here with the place where they live.”