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MfD: Fallen monument park to host Prague’s unwanted sculptures

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Prague, July 17 (CTK) – The Prague City Hall plans to establish “a park of fallen monuments” on the city outskirts to haven statues and sculptures that are controversial, obsolete or have poor quality and might be removed from their original places in the city, daily Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD) writes.

There are some 4,500 statues, sculptures, monuments, commemorative plaques and fountains in the public space in Prague, according to a recent sculpture “census.”

The City Hall plans to examine and photograph all and create a database.

It plans to repair the damaged sculptures but only selected ones it wants to preserve, the daily writes.

“Prague has been flooded by what can hardly be called art. In addition, there are many artifacts that are damaged or they originate in the previous regime, with its style of socialist realism,” Prague Mayor Adriana Krnacova is quoted as saying.

She said the city must choose which artifacts should further decorate the public space.

For the unwanted sculptures, a special park of fallen monuments is to be created after the example of Budapest’s Szoborpark where dozens of statues of Lenin and Marx, and also Hungarian leftist radical Bela Kun are kept, the daily writes.

Moscow, too, has its Fallen Monument Park, it writes.

Opposing the plan, sculptor Pavel Karous said it might strip the city of valuable works of art that date back to the communist era.

“The Lenins, Gottwalds, Zapotockys and Nejedlys disappeared from Prague streets [after the fall of communism] in 1990 already. At present, politicians often pejoratively label everything made before 1989 as socialist realism, according to their own taste. In fact, socialist realism existed in our country until 1958 only. Afterwards, the state presented itself by the late modern art style,” Karous said.

Klement Gottwald, Antonin Zapotocky and Zdenek Nejedly were Czechoslovak communist leaders in the late 1940s and in the 1950s.

Karous said the previous-era art is a closed chapter and should be protected.

Krnacova said the unwanted artifacts needed not necessarily be communist-era ones.

“It often happens that someone donates a statue to a town district, which thoughtlessly places it at a public site without anyone assessing the work’s quality and compatibility with the given space,” Krnacova said.

Eliska Kaplicky Fuchsova, who heads the City Hall’s culture committee, gave two examples of controversial statues that might end up in the fallen monuments park.

The first one is a fountain decorated by four dancing figures, a work by Anna Chromy that stands in the Senovazne Square, and Chromy’s sculpture of an empty monk’s frock outside the Estates Theatre. Critics call her works invaluable and bordering on kitsch.

The other example is the winged lion in the Klarov Park, a monument to Czechoslovak pilots serving in the RAF during World War Two. The statue was donated to the Prague 1 District by the British community living in the Czech Republic, but its installation aroused disputes a couple of years ago, also because there is another monument on the same site.

“Instead of the lion, we would have a new, more valuable sculpture created in commemoration of the pilots. We would like it to stand elsewhere in the centre of Prague,” Kaplicky Fuchsova said.

According to Karous, artifacts of poor quality started mushrooming in Prague after the collapse of communism and the above two mentioned statues definitely belong to them.

“However, it is not up to politicians but up to an independent commission formed by artists, as is usual in the West, not by Ms Krnacova, to decide on what is a kitsch,” Karous said.

The Prague 1 District, for its part, is categorically opposed to the removal of the above mentioned statues and it is determined to use all means to defend them, the daily writes, citing the district’s Mayor Oldrich Lomecky.


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