Prague Blog

Exhibition of Phone Booths

Aug 4, 16:03 Filed under prague-for-free

It seems that phone booths are pretty much dead in the 21st century. Sad? Maybe, but that is called progress, my friend. Just think about it – when was the last time you used a phone booth? I can’t even remember. Can you? And I am one of those whose memory works well.

Nowadays, everyone has a cell phone or two to call from when in need of a conversation. Whether that is a good or bad thing, I leave up to you. What I want to write hear about is a quite unique exhibition which changes unimpressive and dull phone booths into pieces of art.

It is a matter of fact that many phone booths in the Czech Republic, and especially in Prague, are absolutely redundant all year round. They are nothing but hurdles in a way. What to do with them? Someone had a great idea – Let’s turn them into something beautiful, something that calls for attention! And so bunch of artists did as that person said. They changed completely 17 useless phone booths and made them attractive for people again.

This special exhibition takes place on Kampa Island till 25th of August. Whether you can still use those extraordinary phone booths for calling, I don’t know. And how to get to Kampa Island? It’s between Charles Bridge and tram station Ujezd (trams 6, 9, 22, 23). You don’t have to pay a thing to see this exhibition.

John Scofield on the Old Town Square

Jul 23, 16:29 Filed under culture

Thanks to a festival Rudy Linka organized in the main squares of several Czech cities, both residents and tourists were given a chance to see John Scofield at a rare free gig. Scofield is one of the few names of modern jazz known to the wider public. Playig with bassist Matt Penman and Bill Stewart on the drums, he made a powerful appearance on the Old Town Square.

John Scofield Linka, a Czech- American jazz guitarist, is himself quite renowned, has released nearly a dozen CDs and won recognition of the foreign audience. He has staged the Bohemia JazzFest series of concerts for the third time. The last year is thought to have been a success, with well- known performers and an estimate of 40, 000 people attending the various events.

Around 8, 15 pm Linka welcomed the star with a glass prize, given at the festival for the first time, and the festival’s sponsor, Pilsner Urquell supplied 10 000 dollars for the trio. I believe it surely worked as a substitute for an audition. Pavel Bem was among those who presented the prize to the guitarist, although his appearance did not seem to enchant the public.

Scofield, a former co- player of the modern jazz superstar Miles Davis, is a key protagonist of the fusion subgenre. Such a sentence would arouse disagreement about many, since he isn’t bound by a single style, not even such a broadly defined one. He was always close to jazz funk, but that didn’t prevent him from releasing a dance- influenced album and some more traditional, calm works. A regular collaborator of other major jazzmen, Scofield seems comfortable with the open, ever- changing yet recognizable style he established for himself.

The show was both powerful and modest. Three people on the stage, enjoying themselves while playing some jazzed- up versions of classic rock songs, couple of standards and several pieces from Scofiled himself. The solos were intriguing, the players having a balanced share of time to present themselves. Scofiled was, of course, particularly interesting, using various effects, at times switching to odd and painful guitar sounds, constantly on the edge between established styles. And there were moments, when it seemed like two guitarists playing at once, as he played the high and low strings almost simultaneously, but developing a slightly different melody on each. He would need a third hand to make his play any richer. Shifting moods, the performance would easily slide from slow melancholy to relaxed mid- speed ride to a jazz- rock Satisfaction re- boot.

It wouldn’t be just to omit a mention of his co- players, who proved to be masterful craftsmen, smoothly handling both the support and the difficult improvised solos.

There were three preceding appearances that day which I do not mention only because I didn’t attend them, though I believe they were worthwhile. The festival went on for three more days, consisting of many appearances of bands from all over the world. It spent another night at the Old Town Square, then moved to Domazlice , Plzen (Pilsen), Prahcatice or Ceske Budejovice. Another big name, Victor Wooten, appears on the second Prague night.

Langhans Palace – the place for photography lovers

Jul 17, 15:04 Filed under prague-events

If you are a fan of photography – whatever if as an active photography maker or better admirer of pictures taken by others or, which is the best, you like both – Langans Pallace is a place which you should not miss you are to stay in Prague for some longer time.

The Langans Palace is situated in Vodickova Street, just by the Svetozor Passage. You can easily get to Vodickova by Metro, it is on station Mustek, which is a crossroad of yellow and green line, the best way is to go to green line and then just follow the signs “Vodickova”. Another possibility is to take a tram or just to walk there, as it is in the city centre, very close to the middle part of famous Wenceslas Square.

The palace itself is also interesting architectonic as it is a beautiful building in a secession style which was lately reconstructed in an innovative way.

But finally, so what that good is situated here that is worth of visit? There is a big photographic shop called Centrum FotoSkoda. They sell various cameras here, both digital and classical and both brand new ones, bit older ones as well as used one (both classical and digital), and there is really wide range of items and staff is quite able to give you useful advices if you are looking for something. I myself bought here an old camera – famous Practica and I was pretty satisfied, both with the camera itself as with the help of stuff. But they obviously do not sell only cameras but also camera equipments, bags for cameras, films, different camera filters, paper for those who like to make their photos on their own and many other things like this, and they also have here books and magazines about photography, as well as postcards with photos of big photographers any many many other things related to photography you can thing of. But Centrum FotoSkoda is not only a shop, it is also a minilab – a place when you can let your pictures to be printed. And they can make them in a really wide range of formats, small, big, huge, panoramas… Both from classical films as well as digital photos. And if you need or just want to have your pictures fast, you can ask for an express services and have them in one hour, and it is not that much more expensive. They also offer services of an atelier, where they can make a pictures of you – for example for documents, but also bigger ones. But I have never tried this service, so cannot say how good are they in this. I like Centrum FotoSkoda, as they have pretty good range of both goods and services.

But in Langhans Palace, there is also a gallery, if you go through little court, you will see it. Called Langhans Gallery, sometimes presents really interesting photographs. Right now, there is an exhibition I am not afraid, showing pictures of South African Johannesburg. This exhibition is opened until 17th of August. More information about the gallery can be found here and more information about Centrum FotoSkoda as well as prices of some of their services here

Summer sales now on!

Jul 16, 15:24 Filed under recommendation

To shop clothes and shoes in Prague is now even more pleasurable, as summer sales are now on. Probably almost anybody likes to get, at least from time to time, some new and lovely piece of clothing or a pair of shoes. And if you can save some money while buying that, the pleasure is usually even higher. Now you can get pieces of collections from spring/summer season 2008 with discounts which range from 50% to 70%.

In the most shops, sales just started recently, so they now have “just“ 50% discount, well… but to get the desired item for half price sounds good. And you still have quite wide range of choices. Or you can wait for bigger discounts, which usually enable you to get items with a 70% discount, but then the range is usually already quite limited as they (shop managers) are trying to sell most of the “rests”. But some stores already have those 70% discounts now, or they have a combination of 50% and 70% discounts, eventually together with other possibilities, as mere 30% or quite good 60% discounts and so on.

And as now there are summer holidays at schools as well as many people take their holiday at work and leave the city, and plus as the weather is pretty good now and there are other possibilities how to spend the leisure time outdoor and in a better way then with shopping, shops are not that crowded. Well, there are quite a lot of people in them but compared to shopping before Christmas… So you can quite enjoy strolling between hangers with beautiful clothies, trying them on without waiting too long in line or without waiting to long at cash desk. And enjoy the good feeling that now you can effort to buy more, because prices are lower. And there still will be many occasions where to wear the lovely new clothes or shoes this summer. Just don’t forget, there are other great things to do in amazing city of Prague then just shopping. Some tips where to go and what to do can be also found on this website.

Summer Shakespeare Festival 2008 Prague

Jul 16, 11:55 Filed under prague-events

Maybe while traveling in public transport or while strolling in beautiful Prague streets you have noticed red posters with a red photograph of young woman with white and black text on them saying “Letni Shakespearovske slavnosti 2008”. So if case you were wandering what that is, this article should make it clearer.

It is already a tradition, that in summer you can see many drama pieces by the world most famous dramatic ever – a British William Shakespeare in Prague. Well, he is that popular that sometimes is doubted that Romeo and Juillet was written by this guy from Stratford upon Avon, and there are many theories about another authors of this and other popular pieces. But whoever is the author, those plays came into history under label of William Shakespeare tragedies and comedies. So the biggest open air theatre festival in the Czech Republic bears his name. The festival, which is this year held under the patronage of the president of the Czech Republic, is pretty popular and every summer keeps in being one of the major cultural events of the season, especially as National theatre has summer holidays.
The festivals is very attractive not only because of high number of stars engaged – both of off stage (great directors, costumers and so on) and on stage – skillful and popular actors, but it is also very popular because of the location where it takes place – in the Prague Castle. This year some plays can also be seen in the court of Lichtenstein palace on Malostranske Square. But festival also traditionally takes places also outside of Prague – on ancient castles of Brno, the second biggest Czech city and Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, and this year it expands to Ostrava and Kosice in Eastern Slovakia.

And what will be seen? The comedy of Errors, directed by famous Czech theatrical director Ivan Rejmont, then popular piece A midsummer night´s Dream, tragedy Othello, fairy tale The Tempest, comedy As you like it, famous Merchant of Venice or tragedy Mackbeth and, but only in Ostrava Richard III and, only in Slovakia, Antonius and Cleopatra.

The productions are performed in Czech (in some cases also in Slovak) language, unfortunately for those who can´t speak Czech. But even though there are visited by such people, mostly because of the joy of seeing famous drama pieces staged in beautiful environment of old castle, with good stage scenery and costumes and to see an excellent performances of some pretty good actors.

And for any visitors of Prague Castle, also for those who don’t intent to see any of the plays, there is prepared an exhibition by the organizers, this time for the 5th time already, called Maximum Photography. This year it is named Nocni chodec (Night walker) and presents poetic black and white photographs of Czech photographer Vaclav Chochola. You can see this big size photos in beautiful gardens of the castle. So if you plan to take a walk through castle, you may enjoy them here. They are to be exhibited here from 2nd of July until 28th of September. Festival itself lasts this year from 25th of June to 8th of September.

Brusel Dream - exhibition in the Prague City Gallery

Jul 9, 15:13 Filed under prague-tips

expo 58 atomium tatra At this moment, there is an interesting exhibition in one branch of the Prague City Gallery – in the Municipal library. The exhibition is called Brusel Dream and shows how Czechoslovakia presented itself on the world exhibition Expo 58 in Brusel in Belgium. It was fifty years ago, so now comes an ideal time to remember this event, which was (not only) for Czechoslovak culture pretty important.

Expo 1958 was the first world exhibition after almost 20 years. The last previous one was in 1939 in New York. Then came the World War II. which devastated many countries so much, that they had many other, more important things to do, then to prepare events like this. So when finally the world exhibition Expo 58 in Brusel was annonced, it was expected impationelly and with excitement. The world was finally recovering of war damages…

People were the most curious about the presentation of the U.S.S.R. and the U.S.A., two main enemies in the cold war. The Expo 58 was to be something like their ideological battleground. And the main topic of the exhibition was the cosmos – both macro and micro. Americans and Russian were competing between each other in discovering the space, at this time Russians were ahead – the hit of the Soviet pavilion and the whole exhibition was their space racket Sputnik. But there was also deep research in microcosmos – and the emblem of the exhibition was a structure of an atom.

But how did look like the Czechoslovak pavilon? What did this country presented on the exhibition. Czechoslovaks were pretty succesful at Expo 58. It was amazing, country was under strong Soviet influence, and just was slowly recovering of bad years of war and tough Stalinism, but what was presented here was of really good. Even if the people who went there were contoreled by state and usually also were not allowed to stay long. The state control was really strong. There was even written directions for those Czechoslovaks who were working in the pavilion, how should be answered eventual questions asked by those of western countries, wandering about low level of democracy in Czechoslovakia. Despite this facts, there were presented a lot of items of both Art and industry fields – architecture and interiors with innovative design, excellent glass, textile, graphic design… but especially Alfred Radok’s polyecran and Laterna magica, which combined film screenings with actions of live actors and became extremely popular. Visitors even waited in long lines to see it.

Laterna magica can be now seen in Prague, it is a neighbour of National theatre. Also exhibition pavilion was moved to Prague – it is in Letenské Sady Park, but the building is now used by advertising agency.

Expo 58 was really important event, after this there was even a style called “brusel“ in architecture and design. So if you want to get to know more about it, you should visit the Municipal library. The exhibition is on from 14th of May to 21th of September 2008. Opening hours are from Monday to Sunday from 10 am to 6 pm. Entrance fee is 120 Czk full price, 60 Czk reduced. The Municipal Library is best reached from Staromestska metro station (green line A).

Akce Cihla – Brick Action

Jul 9, 09:42 Filed under culture

You may have noticed it when walking through the streets of Prague. It looks like a rather strange happening with a chimney-like structure in the middle of the street. This “chimney” is made of colorful bricks which are covered with names and pictures. What is this all about?

The Brick Action is a fund-raising project of a civic organization called Portus Praha, which is a non-profit charity organization. The aim of this organization is to help people with mental handicaps to live normal lives and integrate them into everyday life of the society. It strives for independence and self-reliance of mentally handicapped people and elimination of large care-taking institutions for the benefit of family-like centers.

If you buy this special brick, your money will support building of sheltered housing for mentally challenged people. Moreover, your money will also help to develop more sheltered workshops which provide work for people unable to work in standard working conditions.

This year, the Brick Action celebrates its 9th birthday already and will be held in 22 cities all around the Czech Republic. You can buy those good-will bricks in Prague till July 18th. And where exactly? At Andel (yellow line B), Namesti Republiky (yellow line B), I.P.Pavlova (red line C), Na Prikope (near Mustek, green line A), and other places in Prague, simply Old Town Square and at the bottom end of Wenceslas Square. You can’t miss it.

So please, if you want to help, buy a brick and do a good turn.

Love – Desire – Passion - Exhibition

Jul 8, 15:20 Filed under prague-events

There is an attractive exhibition now in Prague. The name itself is already appealing – it is called Love – Desire – Passion (Laska – touha – vasen in Czech) with a subtitle which specifies what visitors of this exhibition will see – the subtitle is Erotic Themes in 15th to 19th Century Art.

The exhibition takes place in exhibition spaces of the Clam Gallas Pallace in Husova Street and was prepared by Prague City Archives and National Gallery in Prague in cooperation with the Museum of Decorative Arts in Prague.

Love, desire and passions fascinate humans since the beginning of ages, some ways how those themes were depicted in European western culture from 15th to 19th centuries can be seen on the exhibition. The exhibition does not really try for some “higher intellectual aims” – as to come with new discoveries in the field of Art history. The main aim is to make an attractive event for visitors, who can enjoy beautiful pieces of Art, sometimes even quite provocative ones. Although, there are some pieces, which are exhibited on the public for the very first time, because of their provocative topic.

As love, desire and passion can exist in many different ways, love for example – a big difference between a lover of a mother to her child and a love of passion lovers. So the pictures shows love in many different situations as well. There is shown idealistic motherly and daughterly love (Charitas), famous stories of biblical and mythological love, but also moralizing genres and even erotic fantasies. All that with emphasis on the works of Italian, German, French, Dutch and Flemish masters. There are mainly paintings, but also some examples of other techniques – sculpture, drawing… and probably the most interesting for visitors – graphic. In the technique of engraving because of its intimate nature has always allowed more openness. There are to be seen for example works of British Artist named Aubrey Beardsley, who made very erotic illustrations to antique comedy Lysistrata (written by famous Aristophanes, the story is about women who decide to stop pleasing their men unlit they stop their fights). It is said that Beardsley did not want this illustrations to be preserved after his death, but they were and now you can enjoy watching them. Among other famous Artists whose works are exhibited on Love – Desire – Passion exhibition can be named Albrecht Durer, Fransisco Jose Goya de Lucientes or Joos van Cleve. And there is also a separate section which shows works done by Czech Artists of 19th century as Josef Manes, Vaclav Brozik, Vaclav Hynais and so on.

So if you feel for enjoying some culture and Arts in Prague, this might be a way you could like. The exhibition is opened from 29th of April until 31st of August 2008, daily, with the exceptions of Mondays, from 10 am to 6 pm. Entrance fee is 100 Czk full price and 50 Czk reduced. The Clam Gallas Pallace is situated in Husova Street number 20, it is in the city center, not far from Staromestska Metro station.

The most expensive Czech film ever now comes to cinemas - BATHORY

Jul 8, 15:05 Filed under culture

Director Juraj Jakubisko finished the most expensive film which was so far made in Czech cinematography. His drama and historical movie is called Bathory ad tells a story of Elizabeth Bathory (Ersebet Bathory), a Hungarian countess who lived in today´s Slovakia in 16th/17th century. In those times, Slovakia was a part of the Kingdom of Hungary. Elizabeth Bathory is very infamous for murdering and torturing her vassals. She is also said to kill many innocent young girls to get their virgin blood, which she believed should help her to preserve her beauty. But now, for almost hundred years later, historicians´ opinions about her and her life are not that uniform. Some say that she got extremely rich and independent, and thus become a target of jealousy and then evil machinations of her enemies. So who really was she? An evil murderer or an extraordinary well-educated and rich woman, a lonely widow. Was she an aggressor or a victim? Or both? Now, after release of the movie, we can expect more discussions on this topic.

The Jakubisko´s film was already well discussed even before it started to be made, then shooting finally started in December 2005 and now, in June 2008 the film was finished.

The movie already had its V.I.P. premiere, it was 28th of June in Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia. The Czech premiere was on Saturday 5th of July in Karlovy Vary, where famous international film festival takes place. Czech and Slovak cinemas start screenings of the film from 10th of July.

Director of the Bathory movie, which was also intended to be called Love Story Bathory, is, already mentioned, famous Slovak Juraj Jakubisko, who did many good films since 1960´s when he graduated at Film Academy in Prague. This year, in Film festival in Karlovy Vary, he also received a prize for his lifelong contribution to cinematography.

The film with budget of 10 000 000 Euros, which makes it the most expansive film in the history of not only Czech, but as well Slovak cinematography, was made in international coproduction of companies from the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and United Kingdom with additional funding provided by European Union´s Eurimages, the State Czech funding for cinematography (Statni fond CR pro podporu a rozvoj ceske kinematografie) and the Ministry of Culture of the Slovak Republic.

English actress Anna Friel stars as Bathory, and there are many other popular faces as actors appearing here – as Juraj Jakubisko´s wife Deana Horvathova, Italian actor Franco Nero or popular Czech actors as Karel Roden, Lucie Vondrackova, Bolek Polivka or an idol of some teenagers Jiri Madl.

Czech Juggling Convention Prague

Jul 7, 15:51 Filed under culture

If you like juggling and street art, there are some good news for you. From 24th to 27th of July there is going to be 8th year of Czech Juggling Convention and Street Festival in Prague. It is, as organizers states, a big celebration of juggling, acrobatic, new circus and other street art forms. Not only Czech people will be performers, the event is international. It consists not of performances on streets of Prague, some workshops, but also evening programs, lectures and gala shows.

It was also announced, that this year the festival is focused on diabolo and contact juggling, fussion in between dance and juggling art and exploring of francophony juggling and also new circus scene. That sounds quite interesting, and juggling seems to be a good summer outdoor activity, so why not to get to learn something new about it.

More information about the project in English language is to be found here From what is written here it seems, that the program is still not much fixed, but on the other hand they ask those who would like to perform something to contact them, so maybe you still have a change even for this year…

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