The American musician Tom Waits has won legions of fans around the world with his distinctive, growl-like voice and evocative lyrics. This week, Czech music lovers finally got to see the singer live for the first time, when he played two sold-out shows at Prague’s Congress Centre. I caught the second concert, on Tuesday.
On Tuesday organisers in Prague launched the official tender for the design of the Czech entry at Expo 2010 in Shanghai, a site to be visited by an estimated 30,000 people every day for six months from May – December 2010. From now until the autumn, Czech firms - in tandem with top designers, artists and architects - will be able to put forward proposals for the Czech site. There is one limitation: unlike Expos in the 1960s and earlier, they will not be designing an entire pavilion but will operate within a given space in an industrial hall.
Prague is one of the best preserved cities in Europe, and it is not unusual to come across a striking variety of architectural styles – from Baroque to functionalism – in the space of a few minutes. But how has the Czech capital fared when it comes to contemporary architecture? It is the subject of a new exhibition entitled The New Face of Prague, which has just opened at the city’s Czech Centre.
Few writers are more closely identified with Prague than Lenka Reinerová, who died last month at the age of 92. Although in the course of an adventurous life she travelled the world, she loved above all to write about her home city, and with her death Prague has lost one of its most important literary witnesses. In Czech Books this week, we remember Lenka Reinerová and her literary legacy.
Petra Valentová is a Czech conceptual artist who’s been living in New York for some years. Her biggest project to date features an unusual combination of elements. Having developed an interest in the little-known Sami people from the far north of Europe, Petra – who was single – began looking on the internet for a Sami to date. That said, she didn’t expect to really find one – her search for a Sami was more symbolic than real. She got the guys she went out with to provide her with a recipe, which she later made with her friends, taking photographs
The annual Folkové Prázdniny (Folk Holidays) music festival gets underway in the south Moravian town of Náměšť nad Oslavou on Saturday. The week-long event takes place in the grounds of the town’s castle and features a broad selection of both international and Czech world and folk musicians. Ahead of the festival, I spoke to one of its organisers, Daniel Hejl.
South Moravia is a region in the Czech Republic known for many things – a sunny climate, interesting folklore and reasonably good wine. Being the most visited region of the country outside Prague, many people come for historic sights, chateaus and mediaeval castles. But few visitors realize the region along the borders with Austria and Slovakia boats a number of Jewish monuments from times long gone. Most of them now belong to the Jewish Community in Brno which has one man to take care of them – architect Jaroslav Klenovský.
Czech industrial heritage is the focus of a new book that was presented in Prague on Tuesday. Published in both Czech and English by the Czech Technical University, the volume “Průmyslové dědictví – Industrial Heritage” is a collection of papers from the international conference “Vestiges of Industry”, held in the Czech Republic’s largest industrial centres every two years.
The 43rd Karlovy Vary International Film Festival closed on Saturday in traditional fashion with the handing out of Crystal Globe awards. It was a Danish film, ‘Terribly Happy’, which scooped the out-and-out top prize, though the Czechs were represented in other categories – with the Crystal Globes for best actor and best actress this year remaining firmly on Czech soil.
My guest for this edition of One on One is Ivan Passer, who this week received a Crystal Globe in Karlovy Vary for his lifelong contribution to world cinema. The president of this year’s festival jury fled communist Czechoslovakia in 1968, after directing what has been voted one of the best Czech films ever made – ‘Intimate Lighting’ is a black-and-white new wave classic telling the story of two friends reunited. In more recent years, Passer has worked in Hollywood, producing movies such as ‘Cutter’s Way’ and ‘Stalin’ to much critical acclaim.