Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Wordplay, Art, and Graffiti, Prague-style

I haven't recapped our trip to Europe yet because, well, it's intimidating to figure out how to craft a narrative out of 500+ photos! Even the thought of telling the story chronologically is exhausting to me. Instead, then, I'll offer little stories here and there. Eventually it'll all come out, promise.

Prague was my favorite part of our trip. Just the thought of it makes me want to grab a cold beer and saddle up to a seasoned Czech at a bar. But the beer stories are for later. Today, some of the interesting art and wordplay I saw in Prague, much of it on walls.

If rooms are "free," then how can they cost 45 Euro? Hee hee hee...

Prague is a city of graffiti, nearly all of it really artfully done and maintained as part of the visual landscape. To my fellow urban planning/landscape design nerds out there, this is interesting on its own merits. But I say it here as a way to preface the following photo...

"We met by accident, became friends by choice, and fell in love by fate." Actually, this sounds like a rather conscious decision to pair up romantically to me, but okay... I like the bold proclamation, anyway. ;-)

 Best. English. Menu. EVER. Click for a larger version to appreciate "Temptations For Your Delicate Tongue," "A Hark Back To The Past," and "Something To Go With Beer."

My photo of this sculpture is terrible, but I'd already been waiting for these nice folks ("Kick em out" shirt notwithstanding) to leave for five minutes and I lost patience. At any rate, to explain what you are seeing here, it is TWO MEN PEEING INTO A POND VIA MECHANICAL APPARATI. Even better: If you text a word to a phone number, they will pee the word. Seriously. You can thank David Czerny for this, and see them in action here (along with a great description of the piece and its context from a tour guide).

 Really, nothing nice to say about Mr. Sunshine?

The Astronomical Clock is pretty awesome. We strolled up to it after beers and hit it accidentally right on the hour, no doubt annoying the throngs of people who'd positioned themselves in wait for some time. Prague: city of great fortune! You can see it work here (man I love YouTube for things like this!). Here's a piece of history for you: when the clock was built in 1338, it so pleased the townsmen who commissioned it that they blinded the artist so that he couldn't make one for any other city. Wow. Prague: city of great misfortune!

Here's where graffiti gets really interesting. This is the Lennon Wall, named so because under Communist rule, young Czechs turned this wall into a canvas for their complaints about the government, often using John Lennon lyrics to make their points. The wall was repainted every day, but recovered with graffiti every night. You could spend hours photographing this wall - new elements are still added today. It's fascinating - and gorgeous.

 I'll say it now and forever hold my peace: there's not a single flattering photo of me from this entire trip. Moving on!

These locks contain tributes to love. I had to wonder: is a lock really the best way to express one's devotion to another person? Ball and chain... trapped under lock and key... unable to break free... "Hey baby, I really love you, so here's this lock to represent my feelings." Am I missing something?

At any rate, there are lots of them. Locks of love: yea or nay? Discuss!

Prague: I'm forever locked in by its artistic charm! Or something like that. Seriously, I love this place. Much more to come!


  1. Haha. I was thinking the same in thing in Florence just last week! A local gave us the scoop, though. Apparently lovers write/etch their initials on the lock, put the lock on the gate and then throw the key into the river as a tribute to their eternal love. A legend started by some enterprising lock makers, perhaps?

  2. I think that every country I've ever been to (except Canada-- too clean) has had cooler graffiti than we have here. Too few messages and too many territorial tags here. Poetry, political dissent and graphic figures will win any day.

    Locks? Eh. I'd rather have a Cartier Love bracelet.

  3. Like you, I'm not so sure about the symbolism of a lock to show one's love... but the locks sure do look cool strung together like that!

    You may think that's not a flattering photo of you, but I think you look fantastic. Glad you had such a wonderful time!

  4. I think you look very dashing world windswept traveler in that picture. Which now, after reading this post, I think should be your profession- dashing windswept travel writer!

  5. I'm not ashamed to admit that the moment my husband decided to study in Prague for the rest of the semester, I automatically thought "Isn't that where the peeing statues are located that Maggie posted about?!?!" My memory is full of culture and class. ;) Can't wait to re-read about your Praha adventures in anticipation!


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