When I spent about 24 hours in Prague a few years ago, I was on a budget tour for 18-35s. The group consisted of three couples and four single twenty-somethings. Before long the couples split off for alone time, leaving me with three art loving twenty-something guys. And when you tour Prague with three art loving twenty-something guys, you apparently see some really weird things.
We started out at a sculpture that was hanging from the ceiling of a man riding a dead upside down horse. If you read it again, it won’t sound any less crazy.
I remember it being in some sort of mall, near a quaint café. It is apparently the work of David Černý, a Czech artist who is known for offbeat, provocative work. This particular piece is said to depict Saint Wenceslas in a mocking way, creating a parody of the more gallant and noble Saint Wenceslas statute that sits in Wenceslas Square in front of the Czech National Museum.
There was more David Černý waiting for us as we continued this quirky tour, heading toward something that was marked on my city map simply as “Piss”. At this point I realized that my aspirations of a sophisticated and romantic European tour had reached a new level. My tourmates assured me that this piece of art would be “fun and cool” and insisted I go along with them. And there it was, right in front of the Franz Kafka Museum, two naked-ish robot-ish men urinating into the very pond in which they are standing (sorry, Franz!).
One of my tourmates had read in his guidebook that if you text a message to a certain phone number, the men will spell it out for you in “urine”. Classy. He also mused that the shape of the pond could be the outline of the Czech Republic, but in the days before widespread smart phone use I had to wait until I got home to verify this (which came up affirmative). My male compatriots were also extremely amused by the “backhand grab”- so much so that I was glad to be able to slip off to the ladies’ room alone during our subsequent pit stop.
As I prepare to detail our final stop, I realize this could have been called the David Černý tour of Prague. He is also responsible for the giant babies that climb the TV tower and dot the entrance to the Museum Kampa. Somehow we managed to completely miss the highest building in the whole country, so I didn’t get to see the ones that actually crawl up the tower. I did, however, hitch a ride on one of the ones on the ground. They seem to have some sort of bar code or computer-esque slot on the fronts of their heads in place of faces, but other than that they are simply big babies.
In addition to these works of art, I also ate at a few great restaurants and toured the National Museum, but this little walking tour of art education was by far the most fascinating part of my time in Prague.