A new work by renowned Czech artist David Černý has gone on display at the Czech House in Islington, London to coincide with the Olympic Games. Entitled ‘London Booster’, the work features a converted red double-decker... doing push-ups! The six-tonne mechanical sculpture even audibly grunts and groans as it lifts itself off the ground, making it a perfect draw for the upcoming Olympics.
Those familiar with Černý’s extensive body of work will not have forgotten the Russian tank he once sprayed pink, his King Wenceslas riding a dead horse, or the provocative Entropa, a giant ‘model kit’ that enraged at least a few politicians during the Czech EU presidency by lampooning national stereotypes – a Turkish squat toilet in place of Bulgaria, for example, and a Swastika-like web of highways for Germany. By comparison, Černý’s work for the Czech House during the Olympic Games is just as accessible but far less controversial; Jan Vitvar covers arts & culture for the Czech weekly Respekt:
“There have always been two dominant threads in Černý’s work: one that is more provocative and one less. In a way, I almost prefer the work that intends less to shock. That’s not to say that London Booster doesn’t have Černý’s signature or elements typical of the artist. His bus – a huge project – includes a human backside. That is a typical Černý element he’s used before and you don’t have to be an art historian to figure out he’s using the bum to have a bit of a laugh!”
At the same time, the artist enjoys sport and is an active cyclist who also has a sports plane license; in an interview broadcast on Czech TV David Černý himself said it was natural to chose push-ups for his athletic bus.
“There is one common exercise for every sportsman around the world and that is push-ups! So I thought that would be fun. At the same time, there is another element to push-ups: they are also common in the army and even in prison. So it’s a little bit ironic, of course.”
Already the massive sculpture is getting plenty of attention and for new or long-time fans of Černý’s work it seems a given that seeing London Booster in person will be one of the highlights outside of the Games themselves. Respekt’s Jan Vitvar once again:
“On the one hand, Černý runs an independent-minded studio at home to help emerging artists that is very alternative-minded; on the other, he enjoys big public projects like this one and is attracted by them. A few years ago he presented a remote-controlled car at Rotterdam; before that, there was the Walking Trabant that symbolised East Germans fleeing to the West, and there were his ‘meat cars’ he displayed at the National Gallery. For him, the car always represented freedom and speed. Albeit with the perversion that cars are also destroying the planet!”