Ice bust of Czech president on display near government HQ causes stir

Photo: CTK

This week, an art piece exhibited in front of Czech government headquarters caused a bit of a stir. An ice sculpture of the head of President Václav Klaus that slowly melted in the sun did not amuse officials, who had commissioned students to create artworks for a nearby garden. The offending artist, sculpting student Markéta Jáchimová, decided to display her piece despite orders not to.

Markéta Jáchimová,  photo: CTK
Markéta Jáchimová’s contribution to an exhibit put on by students of the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design near the Office of the Government was an ice rendition of the head of President Václav Klaus, meant to slowly melt in the sun. Many consider the president’s views on global warming as controversial; he says mankind is not responsible for climate change.

But this time, the subject of controversy was not Mr Klaus himself, but Markéta Jáchimová’s piece. The artist outlines the intention behind it.

“It is supposed to allude to global warming, which he denies is happening. So he himself is melting, and it also symbolizes the fleeting nature of his words and thoughts. So the things that surround us will not be here forever, and everything will melt, just like his opinions, or rather, the block of ice.”

Markéta Jáchimová,  photo: CTK
The implications of a melting piece of ice that resembles the Czech president did not please officials from the Office of the Government. The artist was told she could not bring her sculpture to the nearby Lichtenstein palace gardens where the exhibition was to open.

“I was surprised that two hours before the exhibition, I was removed from the list of exhibiting artists and they tried to cover the whole thing up. And the curator seemed to think that I was just doing it to assert my own ego, which was not the case. It was more about freedom of expression, and showing people that we have that in this country.”

But Markéta Jáchimová decided to bring her ice sculpture to the exhibition despite the curator’s disapproval and placed it on a fountain in the Lichtenstein palace gardens.

“I wanted to draw attention mainly to the fact that as an artist, I should be able to express myself freely, and to show people that there is a problem in this country when it comes to exhibiting certain work. Basically, I think this is about censorship. I am aware of the fact that the exhibition was in front of the Office of the Government, but I think that nonetheless we are free people, and should be able to express our opinion freely, as is typical in a democracy.”

Photo: CTK
While the curator argued that the exhibition was not meant to provide a space for caricaturing politicians, the head of the academy’s sculpting division, where Jáchimová studies, said he did not consider the piece to be offensive. He added that officials should have informed the student of their decision in written form and ahead of time.