Those who have never been to America get their image of the continent from TV, movies, books and other media. It seems that this much has not changed since the New World was discovered and the first news from the continent reached Europe. The National Gallery in Prague has launched an exhibition called “Amerika k sežrání”, or “Savouring America” which presents the New World through 16th to 19th century European prints.
Stanley ‘Robotman’ Povoda is the father of Czech robotics. After over half a century of bringing people’s old colanders, chandeliers and vacuum cleaners to life, Stanley has just become the subject of his first retrospective in Prague’s Trafačka Gallery. Stanley (real name Marián) Povoda has been back in the Czech Republic for five years now, after spending most of his life in exile in North America. On a recent tour of his new show, Stanley told me where his passion for robots began:
Over the centuries, Prague has hosted many outstanding scientists from across Europe – among them the German mathematician and astronomer Johannes Kepler. Kepler spent a full twelve years of his life in the Bohemian capital at the beginning of the 17th century and it was here that he carried out some of the most important observations. This week a new museum opens to the public in Prague in the actual house where the astronomer lived 400 years ago.
Sculptor Pavel Opočenský has seen many twists and turns in his life. After signing Charter 77, he left for Germany to eventually settle in New York. When he came back after the fall of communism in 1990, he got involved in an incident in which he killed a skinhead in self defence. The trial took four and a half years before he was cleared of criminal charges. In the meantime, Pavel Opočenský became a respected sculptor – but in 2003, he was sentenced to three years in jail for sex with minors.
The Platinum Collection is the title of the biggest retrospective to date by the photographer Robert Vano, who is best known for his male nudes. Vano is a Hungarian Slovak who started out as a stylist on fashion shoots when he moved to New York in the late 1960s, before eventually becoming a much respected photographer himself. At the new exhibition at the Mánes gallery in Prague, Vano – a long-time resident of the city – told me how he gradually found his own style.
For many Czechs, politics is a world of its own, with its own rules and strange characters. Some back their candidates based on things that have little to do with their actual policies, or their record, and some get their ideas from the media. One of the country’s most respected, and wittiest, political commentators is Bohumil Doležal.
The sixth year of the Letní Letná or Summer Letná festival of new circus and avant garde theatre has just got underway at Prague’s Letná Park. Until the end of August, colourful tents raised among the greenery not far from Prague Castle will host troupes and ensembles from the Czech Republic and abroad.
My guest today in One on One is concert pianist and director of the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra Jan Simon. Simon has studied with some of the great pianists including compatriot Ivan Moravec in Prague and the Uruguayan-born Homero Francesch in Zurich. He also trained in Berlin before becoming the youngest ever soloist in residence of the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra in 1994. When I met him to bask in the sun on his balcony, Jan Simon started by telling me about his musical family background:
Every year, for those who simply don’t get enough of the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, there is another important film event just around the corner in very same place. It’s called the Fresh Film Festival - a showcase of international student cinematography that has quickly risen to prominence in its six years of existence. This year’s main award went to the Swedish film “Scratches”, about bored youngsters yearning for love in an industrial zone. Not the merriest of topics, but a well-crafted look into young filmmaking - which is exactly
One of the things I find most refreshing about Iva Pekárková’s writing is that it is so untypical. Her books have taken us to New York, Nigeria, and now London and Senegal, breaking the stereotype of Czech literature as inward-looking and local. You may remember Iva talking in a past edition of this programme about her autobiographical novel “Dej mi ty prachy”, published in English as “Gimme the Money”, inspired by her experiences as a New York cab driver. After New York, Iva spent several years back in Prague and she also travelled widely in Africa,