Cow Parade brightens up Prague's streets.


Everywhere you go these days you run across cows: cows grazing, cows resting or cows just standing there. The Cow Parade, which originated in Zurich in 1998 and which has since been at home in 18 cities around the world including New York, London and Brussels, is now in Prague. This is largely thanks to businessmen Serge Borenstein and Bessel Kok whose Prague-based company paid over 7.5 million crowns, just under 300,000 US dollars, to bring the project to the Czech Republic. Another 45 million was poured into the project by sponsors who are getting good PR out of the summer event. We talked to Serge Borenstein to find out how the public has responded to the city's "new inhabitants":

"The British license holder judged that we have the nicest cows which have so far been designed in Europe. On the other hand we do have a record of vandalism also and that I feel sorry about."

But generally, what is your impression when you walk around Prague -do you see people posing for pictures with the cows and just having fun around them?

"I see people taking pictures, children having fun around them and everybody's interested to hear the story - why the cows are there, and so on. People are much more interested than I expected, actually."

When it is over, I believe many of the cows will be auctioned off with the proceeds going to charity -is that correct?

"Yes, thirty of those cows have already been chosen by Sotheby's and the total amount from this auction - minus the organization costs, of course -will be devoted to three charity organizations."

Now, who painted the cows?

"Czech artists. I think there were one or two exceptions -one Dutch and one Japanese artist, I believe, but otherwise by Czech artists. Two hundred Czech artists participated in the project, indeed more because we had six or seven hundred offers from Czech artists who wanted to participate but we had only two hundred and five cows."

You said there had been some vandalism. Was it serious?

"Yes, quite serious. But I have to say that we cannot blame only Czech people for vandalizing the cows. There have cases of tourists involved -mainly British and German football fans. But then, you can be sure that when a cow is sitting next to an Irish pub it will not remain in a good shape for long."

Do you have your own favourite?

"The problem is that I love them all. It is a lot of love to be distributed but it is true that I have a slight preference for the funny cow -the cow that makes people laugh. It need not necessarily be the best painted one, artistically speaking. You see, the aim of this project is not just to put art in the streets but also to help make it a more pleasant environment and to raise people's spirits, to put colour and laughter on the streets. "