Visiting Prague: Watch out for David Cerny and his Pissing Men

hanging man in Prague

If you are going to Prague, do watch out for David Cerny’s public artworks. First, because they are very bizarre and funny in a loveable sort of way. Second, and perhaps more importantly, they show that there are cultures and countries that allow for politically-incorrect art that makes fun of themselves without threatening, attacking, suing, hounding and jailing the artist.

Cerny’s most controversial work of art – that sits in a rather pretty and quiet public spot in the city centre – is called Pee (or Pissing Men). Basically, it comprises two life-size naked bronze men facing each other with their computer-controlled penises peeing over the map of Czech Republic. Further, if you text some words on the numbers provided near the statues, the stream of pee will apparently write them out. So your words will be pissed on to the map.

I must be honest. I peered closely at the penises – hey, everyone else was too – but couldn’t figure out whether the pee was actually writing out any words at all. But the men were definitely peeing straight on to a map of the country. And coming from the land of strident Shiv Sena and BJP that was shocking enough.

Yet, instead of thinking of the Czech as unpatriotic, it only made me think how comfortable they were within their skins to allow such an artwork to be publicly displayed. For isn’t the ability to make fun of yourself the ultimate expression of self-confidence? It made me wish that some of that confidence would rub off on us too, and we too would learn to take a joke on ourselves every now and then.

Cerny’s works are scattered all over Prague. For example, you are not hallucinating if you see babies crawling up the Television Tower of Prague, or suddenly see an office-going man in spectacles and suit hanging from a pole outside a building. Both are works by Cerny. The first is inexplicable, the other refers to office people “hanging-out”, as we say. And then there is the comical statue of Czech Republic’s most famous hero St Wenceslas riding a dead horse upside down in a square named after him. Best of all, you can view them from FREE.

The works may not appeal to everyone’s sense of humour but I found them hilarious. If you are in the city, do check them out for yourself.

Here’s a list of his artworks around the city, or alternatively, you could check-up at the tourist information centre of the city.

Here’s a youtube video of Hanging Out by Inyourpocketguides.

Here’s a warning about restaurants in Prague, here’s on Franz Kafka connections in Prague, and here’s why you should avoid money changers in Prague.

If you have any tips, advice, experience, peeves or bile on the subject, the comment space is all yours. If you have any questions or stories you want to share with other Indian readers, write to us at info@indiancompass.com.

  • Indian Compass

    Hi Anna, 

    You can share your images on our Facebook Page – and reach out to more people. Our Facebook Page is called Indian Compass: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Indian-Compass/112703002139278

  • Anna

    I have some pictures of Prague on my blog http://big-city-addicted.blogspot.com

  • Pingback: Franz Kafka connections in Prague | Indian Compass()

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