Herget Brickworks house permanent exhibition examining relationship between Kafka and the Old Town

La exposición dedicada a Franz Kafka (Foto: CTK)

"The City of K.: Franz Kafka in Prague" is a new permanent exhibition at Prague's Herget Brickworks that opened to the public this week. Unlike other exhibitions held on the famous Prague Jewish writer, this one traces the steps of his life in the city, and combines more traditional exhibits - documents and photographs, with the audio-visual effects of video imagery, light and music.

Juan Insua, photo: CTK
The City of K. was first put on show in Barcelona in 1999 as part of a three-part exhibition on great writers and their cities - the other two were "James Joyce and Dublin" and "Fernando Pessoa and Lisbon". Following its great success, the Franz Kafka exhibition travelled to New York City's Jewish Museum in 2002. It has now moved to one of Prague's most attractive exhibition spaces - the Herget Brickworks in the Lesser Quarter overlooking the Vltava River and boasting a great view of the historic Jewish quarter of the Old Town. Juan Insua is the curator of the exhibition, which was put together by the Catalonian Centre of Contemporary Art in Barcelona:

"The exhibition is in two parts. The first part focuses on the relation between Franz Kafka and the city of Prague. Here, you learn about how life in Prague has moulded Kafka - his family, the places he used to visit, his daily route to school, the Jewish circus, in other words everything that influenced him inside what has been called his 'circle' - the area in the Old Town that he was active in. There is also a special section devoted to the women in his life.

Photo: CTK
"The second part looks at how Kafka's work reflects the intricate process of transformation of the physical reality of Prague and Kafka's life into a metaphoric image. We have sections called The Burrow, The Castle, The Office, The Colony, and The Threshold - derived from the Czech name of Prague "Praha", where prah in Czech is a threshold. Both parts are brought closer to the public, are made easier for the public to understand and enjoy, with the help of audio-visual technology - light, music, video imagery and sound effects."

Literary historian Josef Cermak is one of the Czech Republic's most respected Kafka scholars. He is co-founder of the Franz Kafka Society and has translated several of his works into Czech (Kafka wrote in German). He has just released his own book called "Franz Kafka: Myths and Mystifications":

Josef Cermak, photo: CTK
"Franz Kafka only began to be popular some 25 years after his death. He was a half-forgotten author, which was what those skilled in mystification took advantage of during the Kafka boom, creating a number of seemingly credible falsifications at a time when critical thinking about the author was weakened by the enthusiastic interest in him. The image of this genius from Prague was sensationalized.

"With their inventive myths and mystifications they succeeded in tricking many a Kafka scholar, who embraced "kafkology" whole-heartedly, hungry for every new piece of information, including the legend about the "red" Kafka, a member of the anarchist meetings and a friend of the Prague circle of Bohemians around Hasek. Of all the exhibitions I have seen, this one does the real Kafka most justice and is the most extensive."