This week, an art piece exhibited in front of Czech government headquarters caused a bit of a stir. An ice sculpture of the head of President Václav Klaus that slowly melted in the sun did not amuse officials, who had commissioned students to create artworks for a nearby garden. The offending artist, sculpting student Markéta Jáchimová, decided to display her piece despite orders not to.
Thursday is the anniversary of the razing the village of Lidice by the Nazis in 1942, without doubt one of the darkest moments in modern Czech history. A planned film about the massacre has been delayed for some years due to funding problems. Now the film’s producer has been forced to announce yet another piece of bad news. Alice Nellis, who was originally meant to direct the film, has had to step back from the project due to illness.
The Pavel Koutecký prize for documentary film is awarded to “tireless observers of the world with the ability to convey their feelings and insights through film.” This year, the work chosen as best able to meet those criteria was “Country of Dreams”, by writer and director Martin Ryšavý. The film takes a hard look at the lives and tribulations of the Vietnamese community in the Czech Republic.
When the artist Alfons Mucha died in 1939, he left his masterpiece of 20 canvasses entitled the Slav Epic, to the City of Prague – but on the condition that an appropriate space be built for it. This has not happened to date and now the city would like to remove the work from the chateau in Moravský Krumlov where it is currently housed and install it in Prague’s Veletržní Palác. The Mucha family, however, is opposed, and is filing for an injunction against the city to keep the paintings where they are until they are given a permanent residence.
Scottish writer Iain Banks is a prolific novelist of conventional novels and science fiction. Since his first novel, “The Wasp Factory” was published in 1984, he has penned around a dozen conventional novels. Under the pen name Iain M Banks he has published around half that number of science fiction books. Many of these feature a utopian civilization of the future called “The Culture.” Away from the writing, Mr. Banks takes a public political stand on many issues, for example he tore up his passport and mailed it to the prime minister in protest
One of the greats of Czech film and theatre, Ladislav Smoljak, died at the age of 78 at the weekend. As a director, screenwriter and actor, Smoljak, brought his special humour to the stage and screen over more than four decades. He will perhaps be best remembered as one of the creators of the fictional Czech character Jára Cimrman.
The legend among Czech rock musicians, singer and songwriter Vladimír Mišík, is back. After a six year break, he and his band, Etc, recently released a new album “Ztracený podzim”, or Lost Autumn. Although the name and the album’s cover might suggest Vladimír Mišík has turned into a melancholic, he in fact back with a vengeance – the album is bursting with full, natural sound and raw energy.
Good news for Beatles fans – a new exhibition at the Czech Museum of Music opens on Thursday evening featuring the music and the men – the museum’s even borrowed George Harrison’s banjo, one of John Lennon’s shoes, and lots more Beatles memorabilia. The exhibition’s highly interactive however - there’s even a little recording studio where you can try belting out Beatles songs. Earlier we spoke to the exhibition’s curator, Dagmar Fialová.
Prague’s Divadlo na Zábradlí is known mainly for staging former President Havel’s plays but in the last couple of years, it has also focused on producing English-language plays. Thursday will see the premiere of a play acted in English with Czech subtitles on the theatre’s main stage. The play, written by a young Polish author Dorota Maslowska, has a rather complicated title: A Couple of Poor Polish-Speaking Romanians in English with Czech Subtitles.
The hedonism of today’s wealthy young Russians is the focus of an exhibition of photographs by Antonín Kratochvíl which has just opened at Prague’s Mánes gallery. In Moscow Nights, he captures scenes of decadence as the city’s “golden youth” cavort in night clubs and even on Stalin’s old yacht. Just ahead of the show’s opening, I asked the great Czech photographer what had drawn him to that subject.