Thursday, July 21, 2011

Prague's Walls

After spending a couple of weeks at Nový Mlýn, we decided to take a trip back into Prague for the weekend. In the brief time we'd spent there at the beginning of our trip, Prague had simultaneously enchanted and confused us. Prague is undoubtedly one of the most breathtaking cities due to its ancient architectural structures, amazing array of Art Nouveau facades, and innumerable crumbling stone walls - yet the majority of its inhabitants seem to reject all that is old and worn. In general, taste runs towards the modern, trendy, and mass produced. Houses in the countryside are abandoned still fully furnished - and the new owners junk all the housewares and clothing because they are deemed useless for their age.
This dismissal of the aesthetics of the past, in part due to the residual effects of communism, contributes to the buildings of the city being a tangle of graffiti scrawls at street level leading up to intricately crafted detailing above. The work on the streets is irreverent to its historical and beautiful context. While neither of us is opposed to the idea of public space being taken back by its citizens, most of Prague's graffiti is either drunkenly carved slurs into the soft stone of store-front walls, or clean stencils promoting websites and brands. We were both pretty saddened to see this medium - which, when used the right way, can be a powerful tool to break down the barrage of advertisements in urban spaces and add beauty and personal significance to otherwise uninspiring walls - mainly employed to spread more ads. There were a few stencils of famous faces and weapons scattered around, but the general lack of street art and the immense volume of perfect places to paste inspired us to add to some of Prague's walls.
We were out until four Sunday morning, winding our way through Prague's streets in search of ideal locations to paste, along the way passing countless drunken pub crawlers and a few late-night pukers (as well as some sweet couples too). We wanted our pieces to be accessible, but not blatant, in hopes that an individual walking by might notice the image as a welcome distraction in passing through areas of high traffic and unsavory tourist attractions - as if a local on his walk to work might be a bit less annoyed by the overwhelming amount of trash left behind by last night's drunken revelers.
Perhaps our pastes might encourage Prague's citizens to take up graffiti in a more constructive and ephemeral medium. Wheat paste and paper only break down with the effects of rain and sun - the same cannot be said for spray paint.

Some of the work pasted by Seek:



Skrowl (collaboration with Cannon Dill)

Some of the work pasted by Bristle:

Ol' Shifty Eyes

Old Man

Matty B. Walts

Rattlesnake Hands

Here's a map featuring every spot we hit:

View Prague 7/17/11 in a larger map

The day following all of the pasting, we retraced our steps to document our labors, and were happy to find that none of the pieces had been taken down or destroyed. Near Petrin Hill, in an area we hit the night before, we wandered through an orchard once gifted to the people of Prague and gathered fruit for the trek back to Nový Mlýn. Under an apple tree, Catherine found a pheasant tail-feather to take back with us. All in all, we could not have asked for a more fitting farewell to Prague.

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