Tuesday, 12 June 2012

ITTP Prague TEFL: Weekly Photo

(Click on photo to enlarge)

This week's photo is the full version of our new blog top background photo, and was taken from a section of the Prague 'John Lennon Wall', located close to Kampa park in Mala Strana (Velkoprevorske namesti). The wall is actually owned by the Knights of the Maltese Cross, and they allow the graffiti on the wall.

So why the 'John Lennon' wall?

Back in the day of communism in Czechoslovakia, when Lennon was murdered in NYC he was seen as a peace martyr for many people here. A Hero. In 1980 Czechoslovakia, people had very little opportunity to express themselves in public but the wall became a place for remembrance for Lennon anyhow. People drew pictures of Lennon and The Beatles on the wall and left messages inscribed on the wall - the authorities came and whitewashed the wall, the pictures and inscriptions reappeared, the wall was whitewashed again, the pictures and inscriptions reappeared, and so on. As with most things in life, if you try and stop something or ban something then the opposite effect usually occurs (think Monty Python's Life of Brian for example) and the wall became a popular stab at the authorities and symbol of freedom and peace. It was of course absolutely forbidden to write, paint or draw on the wall but as I understand it, people would sneak around in the middle of the night, facing imprisonment, and add their mark to the wall then. Some examples of art work on the wall from the eighties/ early nineties - and also some more recent examples - are breathtakingly beautiful in style and talent.

What I particularly like about our photo of the week, our blog top background photo, is that in some way it is a form of original art. Very soon that piece of wall will be written/drawn/painted on again and won't be the same as it was the day when I trundled down through the Prague orchards from the Castle, to the wall to take the photo.

I guess some locals must complain that the wall has become a bit of a tourist trap now and that the true meaning of the wall has been lost - that the original focus of art and meaning has been taken over by (some examples of) nonsensical graffiti. When I was there I must admit that it felt a little like the main Wenceslas Square and to take the shot I had to eventually politely ask people to please get out of the way because it was very crowded and I wanted a clear view of that section of the wall.
Still though, the wall brings people together. It brings people of very different backgrounds together, where they have the freedom to write whatever they like and read what others have written. The square that the wall is on remains to this day a very peaceful place too.

IMHO I personally believe it still remains a strong symbol of peace and freedom.
If you are in Prague then a visit to the wall is a must.
I'm not going to tell you the tram stop where to get off to find the wall because I think that would in a way diffuse or dilute the mystery of the wall experience, firmly placing it on the mainstream tourist destination route. My advice instead is to walk in the direction of Kampa Park (from the Charles Bridge), taking one of the turnings on the right - you will find it around there.
Afterall, it is always better to stumble upon something special, rather than to have it predictably fall into your lap.
Hezky den!/Lovely day!

Neville :-)