A controversial Czech artist known for his anti-communist stance has sent a very clear message to the republic’s president ahead of parliamentary polls by installing a giant purple hand with a raised middle finger on Prague’s main river.
David Cerny, 45, placed his 10-meter statue of the hand making an obscene gesture on a pontoon boat on the Vltava River on Monday. The huge plastic sculpture is floating near the famous Charles Bridge and is pointed at the Prague Castle – the seat of leftist President Milos Zeman.
This unusual stunt comes only four days before Czech snap parliamentary elections, which may bring the Communist Party a share of indirect power for the first time since the Velvet Revolution ousted it in 1989. Zeman favors a post-election plan by the leftist Social Democrats to form a minority government with implicit support from Communists.
“This finger is aimed straight at the castle politics,” Cerny told the New York Times. “After 23 years, I am horrified at the prospect of the Communists returning to power and of Zeman helping them to do so.”
During the campaign ahead of January presidential elections, Cerny helped Zeman’s rival, charismatic aristocrat Karel Schwarzenberg of the Top 09 rightist party, who came second in the polls.
“Our president is just another reason not to live in the Czech Republic,” the artist told The Prague Post in September. “The political system here is not good, most people know that.”
Zeman was on a visit to Ukraine when the controversial installation was mounted. Through his spokesperson he declined to comment on the statue that he had not seen, Czech media reported.
Cerny is known for being provocative in his art. The floating hand is also not the first time that he has flipped the bird to make his point.
The artist first gained wide attention in 1991 when he got arrested after painting pink a monument to the Soviet tank - commemorating the liberation of Czechoslovakia by the Red Army in 1945 – and placing a raised middle finger on top of it.
Cerny also came up with kind of a logo of a red hand, giving the finger with an obscene slogan written beneath it, referring to the Czech Communist Party. The offending finger was given even more prominence after the Rolling Stone’s Keith Richards wore a T-shirt with the logo on it on stage in 2003.