Entering the small, cozy space of FotoGrafic Gallery in Prague’s Old Town, I was struck by the glossy picture-perfect photographs of dashing ladies tanning themselves next to spacious cars, a family on an idyllic picnic, youngsters showing off in front of shiny motorbikes – all images of prosperity and consumerism. One would hardly believe that these were images of 1960’s Czechoslovakia and not America, but all of these are works are indeed by the once legendary Czech photographer and mountaineer Vilém Heckel, who brought a first-republic gleam
Last week’s sacking of Jan Burian as head of the National Theatre and subsequent backtracking is a situation which has not been fully resolved. Although Mr Burian agreed to tentatively return to the post after Culture Minister Jiří Balvín rescinded his decision, for some – namely top management at the theatre and actors who quit in protest– Mr Burian’s return will not be enough.
Mikoláš Růžička is perhaps best-known as one half of the guitar pop duo Republic of Two, who a few years back were named Best New Act at the Czech equivalents of the Grammys. However, this summer he is performing at festivals around the country with Piano, a project that began with an LP recorded in his apartment and has grown into a full band. Růžička comes from a South Bohemian village where his dad is the local art teacher, and alongside his career in music also works in the visual arts field.
Now on hiatus, The Ecstasy of Saint Tereza have been perhaps THE leading Czech indie band of the last two decades. With guitarist, songwriter and producer Jan P. Muchow their only constant member, EOST have gone through a number of stylistic changes over the years, from shoegaze through ambient to – with second singer Kateřina Winterová – a dance-inspired style that could put one in mind of Bjork.
For 12 years Peter Freestone was a personal assistant and close friend to Freddie Mercury, the singer who reached superstardom with the rock group Queen. He was with also there during the singer’s last days in 1991. Since the start of the Noughties, Freestone has lived in the Czech Republic. I contacted him this week after it was confirmed that Queen will release three tracks that time forgot which Mercury recorded with Michael Jackson, a recording at which Freestone was present.
The Rusnok cabinet has been forced to backtrack on the latest in a series of high-profile dismissals. The head of the National Theatre Jan Burian, who was sacked on his first day in office on Thursday, has been reinstated on the orders of the prime minister. Nevertheless, the affair has sparked widespread condemnation and once again raised the question of the government’s right to make radical changes ahead of its vote of confidence in the lower house next Wednesday.
I.P. Pavlova is known as one of the busiest areas in Prague – a metro station, crossroads of a number of key tram routes, and two arteries of the one of central Prague freeway the Magistrála, all make it a loud, dusty and fairly unfriendly location, especially for pedestrians. The Prague-based Centre for Central European Architecture decided to bring this place alive for three weeks, starting this past Saturday, with a multi-genre event called Open Stage I.P. Pavlova.
Lukáš Houdek is a man of varied interests. As well as being a photographer who has explored the post-war massacres of Czechoslovakia’s ethnic Germans, he is co-curator of an exhibition entitled Transgender Me that gets underway in Prague on Monday. In addition, Houdek, a Romani Studies graduate, writes for a leading Roma affairs website; indeed, for much of our interview I was under the mistaken impression that he himself was a member of the ethnic minority.
If you are drawn to the rich Czech tradition of legend and fairytale, Marcela Sulak’s new translation of one of the classics of 19th century Czech poetry is a must. Karel Jaromír Erben’s collection of ballads, “A Bouquet” was first published in 1853, and since then has been read by generations of Czech children and parents alike. David Vaughan talks to Marcela Sulak about a translation that brings out the freshness, sensitivity and humanity of Erben’s poetic world of spinning wheels, water-sprites and witches.