City Hall wants to start a discussion with Prague Property Administration (PSN) and the city districts on the possible extension of legal graffiti in approved areas.
Prague Deputy Mayor Petr Hlaváček (United Force for Prague), responsible for territorial development, and City Councilor Jan Chabr (United Force for Prague), responsible for city property, both acknowledged PSN’s impetus as several buildings turned into places for street art overnight on September 23. They said that the expansion of legal areas for street art is the right path that the city should take.
Both significant and residential buildings in Prague were painted with graffiti by well-known artists. These included the department store Kotva; gallery, hotel and restaurant the Dancing House; shops on Pařížská, Na Poříčí, and Wenceslas Square; buildings in Žižkov, Modřany, and Vršovice; among others. The pieces, by different artists, all include an upside-down letter A in a shield as a logo.
Artists included Iamrushdog, Klára Sedlo, Týna Nezbeda, Dominik Miklušák, Lucie Skřivánková, Michal Škapa, Věrka Vybíralová, Nika Holúsková, and David Černý and Ezop2.
PSN’s aim o was to raise the profile of street art as a real art. Prague City Hall, together with the city districts and this company, will now try to identify new areas where legal graffiti could be created.
“The company drew attention to two phenomena — the quality of the often underestimated street art and the negative impact of uncontrolled spraying of buildings. It thus touches, in general, on the topic of the relationship between art and architecture in public space. Repression should always be the last step, so I am inclined to search for legal areas for graffiti, and I expect that the community of graffiti artists on the contrary will help the city eliminate creations that have nothing to do with any art,” Deputy Mayor Hlaváček said on the City Hall website.
The capital has been struggling with illegal graffiti for many years, and legal areas could help reduce illegal damage to buildings owned by both Prague and private individuals, according to City Hall.
“In my opinion, illegal graffiti is one of the worst forms of visual smog in Prague, which damages the property of private individuals and the city. This applies especially to unsightly tags, where the person only points out their immaturity,” City Councilor Chabr said.
“On the other hand, street art is part of the city, and in a few cases it can aesthetically elevate some of the less well-kept corners of Prague, but only if it is a true artistic creation. For these cases, I am happy to support the selection of legal areas owned by the city,” he added.
Cases of undesirable graffiti are not hard to find. Prague and the owners of the John Lennon Wall are looking for ways to limit vulgar graffiti there while still maintaining the spirit of the place. Tours mixing alcohol and spray painting have been a particular problem.
Recently, though, the wall has been used to draw attention to the situation in Hong Kong, which fits in with its goals of free speech and human rights.
Vandals from Germany who sprayed on a support pillar of Charles Bridge this summer were convicted and fined, but they have appealed the verdict.
The Prague 3 district in particular has been ramping up its anti-graffiti efforts against the sort of random tagging that Chabr also warned against. Recently they cleaned the air vent at náměstí Jiřího z Poděbrad, in addition numerous residential buildings. They have been posting the results of their efforts on Facebook.