In this week’s Arts, I talk to Karolína Garguláková, an independent filmmaker who, with her husband Lukáš, is producing Baťa Lives about inhabitants of neighborhoods built by the famous Baťa Shoe Company in cities around the world. Such areas, designed according to the same basic blueprint, still exist in the Netherlands, India, Brazil or Canada. It would be a mistake to think, however, the film was a history of the Baťa business empire.
A new exhibition located in the upper part of Prague’s Wenceslas Square is displaying dozens of large format photos depicting the square’s golden era, which is in sharp contrast with its present state. What was once a living city boulevard has in the course of past decades turned into a rather unpleasant and crowded street with fast food venues, which locals try to avoid if they can. Ruth Frankova has more in this week’s In Focus:
This weekend, people in Prague will have a unique chance to visit some thirty buildings across the city, from historical sights to state-of-the art office buildings, which are otherwise inaccessible to the public. The event, called Open House, was originally founded in 1992 in London and over the years, more than thirty cities across the world have joined in. I talked with Open House’s Bohdana Rambousková and I first asked her about the history of the festival:
With the start of the tourist season in April hundreds of castles and chateaus around the Czech Republic open their doors to visitors. In addition to their historical value these sites have become cultural hubs, providing a wonderful backdrop for the concerts, theatre performances, craft fairs and historical fencing shows that are regularly organized to attract visitors.
The Czech National Library has been ordered to pay compensation to an architecture studio that argued a design by the late Jan Kaplický should not have won a tender to build a new building for the institution. A court ordered that the National Library pay HŠH architecti CZK 2.9 million for choosing Mr. Kaplický’s design even though it did not meet the requirements of the competition in 2007. The latter’s futuristic design, nicknamed “the Blob”, divided opinion and in the end was never built. The National Library may appeal Tuesday’s verdict.
The Constitutional Court has ruled in favour of a communist-era exile who has been trying to get a house back in the Brno district of Kohoutovice for over two decades. The building was confiscated after Jiří Rábl emigrated illegally in 1981 and later sold to a Communist Party official. A Regional Court in Brno had previously ruled that the property should remain in the hands of its current owner, the Communist’s daughter. The Regional Court must now reconsider the matter.
The Czech Republic boasts perhaps one of the strangest associations around, a group dedicated to climbing industrial chimneys in their spare time. And the more than 30 year old organisation, which started with a small group of teenagers in the Communist era climbing a heat plant chimney at night in the suburbs of Prague is now going from strength to strength. It is though, getting more difficult to find new chimneys to climb.
The Ministry of Culture has for the first time come out against plans to demolish a building on the corner of Wenceslas Square and Opletalová St. in central Prague. Czech Television reported that it had issued a binding opinion that knocking down the building, which dates from 1880, would be unacceptable from the perspective of monument preservation. The ministry made the move as part of an appeal process launched by preservationists against a decision to allow its demolition taken by City Hall in 2010.
After years of speculation regarding its future, the famous Werich Villa on Prague’s Kampa, once the home of the famous Czech actor Jan Werich, is set to get a new tenant. The Prague authorities have just decided to rent the historical building to the Jan and Meda Mládek Foundation, which will turn it into the Voskovec and Werich Arts and Social Centre in honour of the great Czech acting duo.
Archaeologists find unique grave of Roman era warlord in Uherský Brod
Czech Ambassador to Ethiopia Pavel Mikeš: ‘If you wait long enough, an egg will walk on two legs’
New debate erupts over use of -ová suffix in Czech female surnames
Divided by Freedom – Large-scale Czech Radio survey finds six social classes in Czech society
Josef Becher – the man behind Czech Republic’s iconic liqueur