Magazine

11-12-2004

Excreting in a gallery -how far should one go in protesting against an art exhibition. The TV star who was smuggled into the country. And, a message from the police: if you find your car's been stolen on Saturday morning -please look around your favourite pub first! Find out more in Magazine with Daniela Lazarova.

A man from Liberec got the shock of his life on Saturday morning when he woke up and found that his car was not parked outside the house. He alerted the police- only to remember -once his hangover was better - that he'd actually forgotten it parked outside the pub on Friday and walked home. The police say that the number of such incidents is quite high. One scatterbrained man actually drove his car to Prague, forgot it was there and came back by bus. We spent several hours searching for it before his wife came home and told him where to look, an officer said.

 

A war is being waged between a group of young artists and the management of the National Gallery in Prague, headed by the somewhat controversial artist Milan Knizak. The gallery is now showing an exposition of Czech and Slovak modern art - of which Mr. Knizak himself is a prominent representative. The group of angry young artists who claim that Mr. Knizak is simply "peddling his own art" in the gallery were so furious that on November 20 they did the unthinkable - six of them visited the exhibition at Veletrzni Palace and excreted on the floor in the main hall before making a breezy exit. "This is what we think of Mr. Knizak's art" they told the press later. It is an unprecedented form of protest in the Czech Republic and the National Gallery reportedly wants to take the case to court. "This is a civilized society and we expect people to express their objections in a civilized manner", the head of the National Gallery said.

 

Need to order a taxi? If you are going far, you might find it cheaper to order a train! Yes, unbelievable as it sounds you can now "order" a train - that's how accommodating Czech railways have become in an effort to attract more passengers. Well, that's a bit of an exaggeration. Actually the offer stands on one track only between the west-Bohemian town of Bezdruzice and the Konstantin Spa. Spa residents would often want to undertake a trip to the nearest town but if they stayed late at the pub or attended a disco there was no way to get back to the spa. So Czech railways made a special offer: anyone who wants to stay out late can "order" a train back -on condition that they buy 40 tickets. At a cost of 10 crowns each, the trip would cost you 400 crowns, whether you were alone or with a group of friends to share the cost. Oh, and there's a big bonus - the train won't leave without you!

 

Prague owns one of the oldest merry go rounds in Europe. People first rode it in 1892 and over a century later its twenty one horses are ready for a long recuperative stay at the Technical Museum in Prague. The overall maintenance is expected to take about three years and will be performed by a team of specialized conservationists. The cost is estimated at 5 million crowns. That's because the horses are not just made of wood -they are covered with real horse-skin and have real hooves. " I don't think there's another like it in Europe. Even the famous merry go round on Montmartre is just made of wood and painted over," says the head of the Technical Museum Karel Ksandr. The Letna merry go round -as it is called- first stood in Prague's Vinohrady district. In 1894 it was moved to Letna where it is stayed for over a century. And just as soon as it has been restored to its former beauty it will go back to serving another generation of Czech children.

 

The Svandovo Theatre is trying to break the language barrier for English speaking audiences in Prague. It recently introduced the first drama productions with simultaneous subtitles projected on screen for non-Czech speakers. In Prague subtitles are used in other theatres but only for opera performances. The theatre has chosen to subtitle five plays from its repertoire: The Tempest by Shakespeare, Martin McDonagh's Lieutenant of Inishmore, Tartuffe by Moliere, The Marriage by Gogol and Killer Joe by Tracy Letts. If there is enough interest the management is planning to subtitle more plays in the coming season.

 

"Mum is mincing meat", "Dad has a car" two sentences there from a first grade children's textbook. Those sentences should be dropped from all future textbooks -because they stereotype the role of Czech men and women and influence children from an early age. This according to a team of editors who have been instructed by the education ministry to review old textbooks with regard to equality of the sexes. Many of the old textbooks which are still in use show that the mother's place is in the home - cooking, cleaning and looking after the children, while men are shown driving a car or engaging in some profession. Moreover a family is always shown as a three member unit - a mother, father and child under one roof. In a country where every third marriage ends in divorce - and in Prague it is every second - this could make many single parent children feel inadequate, says a psychologist involved in the process. This year a brand new textbook for first graders came out - where both the mother and father share the household chores - both go to work and have plenty of hobbies.

 

LhotkaLhotka The village of Lhotka north of Prague is one of the cleanest and most attractive looking near and far. No garbage of any kind lying around, well-tended lawns, swept leaves and in the winter pavements swept of snow. This is not because there is a higher and more advanced breed of Czechs living in that particular village but because the mayor has come up with a New Year bonus scheme: a thousand crowns from village funds for those who maintain their premises all year round. Clearly there's no motivation like money.

 

Chimp Shirley is something of a celebrity. She's been rubbing shoulders with Czech pop music and show biz stars - the guest of honour at a 50th birthday party, a guest on a popular TV show and the lead actor in a TV ad - Shirley's a crowd puller wherever she happens to be. Now her manager has a lot to answer for. Her papers were discovered to have been faked because Shirley was allegedly smuggled into the country - one of the thousands of exotic animals that end up in the hands of poachers, many of whom die in the process of being smuggled to the developed world in inhumane conditions. Shirley herself is on the list of critically endangered species and there are calls for her to be returned to the wild. But according to the director of the Prague Zoo it's too late - Shirley is too used to being around people. If it's any consolation, the employee who issued Shirley's papers and residence permit here in the Czech Republic is now safely behind bars.

11-12-2004