Walking through the quirky streets of historical Prague is not the same without David Cerny’s subversive, weird-ass art installations.
By far the most famous contemporary Czech artist, David Cerny has snagged a name for himself as the “bad boy” of Czech art. After a residency in New York for several years, this rebellious artist returned to Prague to start a revolution. In 1991, he installed his first public work: a Trabant car on legs, a social commentary on the East Germans who left hundreds of these Trabants after being granted political asylum in the West German Embassy in Prague in 1989. On the same year, he became notorious for vandalizing a Soviet Tank—a national monument—by spray-painting it pink. From then on, more and more of Cerny’s work sprang up in the most unexpected spots in the city.
Take for example a sculpture which you will never find unless you look up while walking through Husova Street. The “Hanging Man” (1997) depicts Sigmund Freud hanging helplessly with one hand on the roof of a building. Cross the courtyard of the former Artbanka Museum of Young Art and find four gigantic “Guns” aimed at each other while suspended in mid-air. Every now and then, a blast rings out from the guns to the sound of slamming doors, flushing toilets, and car brakes. Look to the distance at the Zikov TV Tower and discover a swarm of mutant “Babies” scaling its height, an attempt commissioned by the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art to make the towering eyesore more attractive. Enter the Kampas park and find more of these creatures crawling aimlessly across the grounds.
One of his most popular works, “Piss” found in front of the Franz Kafka Museum is a bit more interactive. It portrays two bronze figures shaking their hips and waggling their members as they urinate on a puddle shaped like the Czech Republic. Send an SMS to a number next to the exhibit and check out your message spelled into the ground by the jiggling penises. Head out to the free art space Futura and find a pair of gigantic human legs bent over against the wall. They got ladders leading up to the anus, which is a huge hole with a TV inside showing Vaclav Klaus, ex-president of the Czech Republic, and Milan Knižak, ex-director of Prague’s National Gallery, spoonfeeding each other on loop to the sound of Queen’s “We Are the Champions”.
And possibly the most chaotic and subversive installment Cerny has so far released was launched during the Czech’s ascension as President of the European Union (EU). “Entropa” was an enormous plastic factory stencil holding the nations of EU like toys out of a box. Each member was depicted in their worst politically incorrect stereotypes: Germany was a swastika-shaped autobahn network, Italy was littered by masturbating soccer players, Sweden was an IKEA box, Bulgaria was a squat down toilet, and the UK was absent. The piece caused such an outrage that the Czech ambassador had to travel to the capital of Bulgaria to resolve the issue. Later it was revealed that Cerny faked names for 26 other artists—complete with resumes and websites—commissioned by the EU to create the commemorative art installation. Instead, he and his 3 assistants produced all the sculptures themselves in secret.
Check out more of David Cerny’s art in his website, or visit Prague to witness the insanity for yourself.