The sculpture Entropa has been one of the most reported on aspects of the Czech presidency of the European Union. The artwork, which was placed in an EU building in Brussels, lampoons national stereotypes, for instance portraying Romania as a Dracula theme park and France as a country on strike. What’s more, sculptor David Černý managed to fool the then Czech government, who commissioned Entropa, into thinking it was the work of artists from various EU states, when in fact he alone was the author.
The capital event of the Czech literary calendar began this week with the start of the 19th Prague Writers’ Festival. Each year the festival brings dozens of major personages to the Czech Republic from across the world. This year the theme of “the art of storytelling” is being discussed among the literary greats of, what festival founder Michael March calls, “three ancient civilisations: China, Arabia, and Berkley, California.”
The Oxford-Weidenfeld prize is one of the UK’s most prestigious translation awards. This year, six books are being judged by a panel of Oxford academics and translators – amongst them Marek Tomin’s translation of Emil Hakl’s ‘O rodičích a dětech’, titled ‘Of Kids & Parents’. This Tuesday, Marek flies to Britain ahead of tomorrow evening’s ceremony. Just before he left though, I caught up with him to ask what had attracted him to the Czech original of Hakl’s book. As well as the writing style, Marek suggests, there are more personal reasons for
The great American artist, illustrator and writer Robert Crumb has been described as the father of underground comics. His wife Aline Kominsky-Crumb is also a successful cartoonist, known for her autobiographical stories. I met the Crumbs at the start of this year’s Prague Writers’ Festival, where they are among the special guests. Assuming that when they started out cartooning would not have been regarded as literature, when did their art form begin to win respect?
Sunday evening saw the opening of the Czech Republic’s main annual literary event, the Prague Writers’ Festival, at the city’s Laterna Magika theatre. Now in its 19th year, the festival continues its mission of bringing the crème de la crème of the literary world to Prague, and Czech writers to the world’s attention as well.
I first met John Tregellas just after the Velvet Revolution, when we both started working for Radio Prague at a time of huge changes in Czech society. At the time neither of us suspected that nearly two decades later we would both still be here. These days, John, who grew up in the English county of Devon, runs a successful business organizing tours in Central Europe for choirs and orchestras from all over the world. Speaking near perfect Czech, he says that he now feels every bit at home in Prague as he does in his native Britain. I went to see
The 1980s was the last decade of communist rule in Czechoslovakia. Political oppression at that time was not as fierce as in the beginning of the totalitarian regime in the 1950s, but still there was no end in sight. Society was demoralized and constantly bullied by the authorities, people mostly cared about themselves more than anything else, and bureaucracy permeated every aspect of life. In short, not a happy time. One of the very few Americans living here in those days was Marsha Kocábová, who came to Prague in 1982. Her book ‘Neither Here nor
The leading Scottish artist Douglas Gordon has an extensive new exhibition at Prague’s Dox gallery. Blood, Sweat, Tears features photographs, abstract statements printed on the walls and above all video, the medium with which Gordon is most closely associated. Among the works at Dox is a brand new version of perhaps his best known piece, 24 Hour Psycho, a greatly slowed down treatment of Hitchcock’s classic movie.
The Jonathan Crossley Band is what you get when you ask two Czechs and three South Africans to make a mixture of rock and jazz. The outcome is being warmly received by crowds from Prague to Pretoria. Since they formed a year and a half ago, the group has toured Europe, Africa and beyond and, on a recent trip to Johannesburg - part funded by the Czech Foreign Ministry - the band recorded its first album, called ‘Got Funk, Will Travel’.
An interactive exhibition which is to open at the Jewish Museum in Prague on Thursday promises visitors a chance to revive a centuries’ old legend. A sculpture by the famous Czech artist Petr Nikl invites people to try to figure out the right symbol or word which would breathe life into the famous Prague Golem – a legendary giant allegedly created by the 16th century rabbi Loew.