Franz's sand "ziggurat" final piece at Sculpture Grande '06 (A report for the Radio Prague)
For a number of years now visitors in Prague have been able to view public sculpture in and around the monumental Wenceslas Square throughout the summer months. Titled Sculpture Grande, the exhibition features truly massive works that rise up above the traffic; this year it particularly made headlines through work by legendary American artist Dennis Oppenheim. Generally, public reaction has been positive: most told Radio Prague they enjoyed the show overall, stressing that it was a great opportunity to view abstract art.
Young tourist: "I like it because I like contemporary art and I think that it is a good thing that the city is involved. It's good material, different material, so that's good!"
Local man: "Yes, I enjoy it. But, my opinion is that those sculptures don't belong here! They should display them at some other place."
RP: What other place?
"Outside, not in the city centre."
RP: Why is that? Do you think that they clash with some of the surroundings?
"Yes, exactly. Because this is the historic centre and they should put them somewhere else."
Young man: "I like this sculpture! I am aware that it's here and I think that it's good that we can see recent work. Good for tourists as well. I like it."
September 26th is the final day of Sculpture Grande but it's not quite over yet: there is one final event left, one final sculpture left to view that is only now being completed. On Monday the well-known Czech composer and visual artist Vladimir Franz began work on the final piece on Wenceslas Square, drawing many curious onlookers. When finished the work will resemble a a giant sand castle, a spiralling tower, really a kind of ziggurat. The artist says it is in honour of the upcoming anniversary of the founding of Czechoslovakia as well as the close of Sculpture Grande. On Monday around 15 tonnes of sand were delivered on the spot on the square, and Mr Franz, helped by several art school students, began working on the piece. I met with him shortly after he had begun digging through the first piles of sand.
"It will be something like a Babylon tower from sand. Yeah? Sand is not a material for ever. It is also the principal of children's play. This principal is one that is very important for all facets of our life. Politics, the arts, financial life, everything. People are much too serious, and this makes our civilisation inhuman. And, this principal is very, very important. It will be finished Tuesday evening and then a dancing group will come and destroy this sculpture through dance."
It should be something of a dramatic ending to Sculpture Grande '06. The creative destruction of the piece will include original music by Mr Franz with motifs from important Czech compositions by Dvorak, Janacek, and Suk. Vladimir Franz has called it apocalyptic material. Curator Olga Dvorakova also told me it was a suitable way of ending Sculpture Grande.
"At six o'clock in the evening we will be there along with the Lord Mayor of Prague, Pavel Bem, and we will give the word and then we will destroy the sculpture. It will be finished just one minute. Then we will destroy it."
Organisers expect that a lot of people will be drawn to the final act, from people who have already read about it to simply many passers-by who will be on the square at the hour: it could be exciting. Vladimir Franz is one of the country's more daring artistic figures so it will be interesting for many to hear his apocalyptical compositions, as well as to see how the DUWA dance group demolish the final ziggurat. Olga Dvorakova said that the final piece will be professional in terms of sound and already some of the people I spoke with are looking forward to it.
Local man: "I already read the article about it on the fence. Pretty nice, crazy, I think I'll like it, so I'm going to see it!"
You can look up more on Vladimir Franz on his website, which includes a number of mp3s featuring parts of original compositions.