Jiřičná creating special installation for Signal light festival held amid Gott mourning

Photo: archive of Signal Festival

The seventh Signal festival will again bring video mapping and light installations to the streets of Prague, every night from Thursday to Sunday. This year’s edition promises something special in the form of a piece by famous architect Eva Jiřičná, though it will also be overlapping with events linked to the funeral of singer Karel Gott. I discussed all that with Signal founder Martin Pošta, but first asked him about this year’s theme, which is revolution.

Visualisation of the installation by Eva Jiřičná,  photo: archive of Signal Festival

“Basically we took revolution in the general sense, so not just because of 1989 but because basically there are small revolutions in our everyday lives.

“So we asked the artists to reflect on that. For example, technological revolutions, or everyday, minor revolutions.

“Each of the artists took their own approach to this, so I’m quite keen to see that in person myself.”

I understand Signal has grown since last year?

“Well, we have grown into different directions.

“We have expanded a little bit in our off-programming.

Eva Jiřičná,  photo: Lucy Vagner,  CC BY-SA 4.0
“We have this year 18 installations that are basically in the city centre of Prague, and Karlín, but we have added an off-programme which is Signal Soundscapes, a special audio-visual performance Kostel svatého Salvátora [St. Salvator’s Church] in the Old Town.

“We have added a whole kind of conference part, which reflects on revolutions – artistic revolutions, social revolutions – which is going to be taking place on Saturday at the Werich Villa.”

This year you have something very special, an installation by the great Czech-born, UK-based architect Eva Jiřičná. What is she creating for this year’s Signal?

“It’s a mystery, kind of [laughs].

“Actually Eva has been working with her team for quite a long time on an installation which is a ‘meteorite’.

“There is a whole story about this meteorite visiting us and reflecting on humanity, in a way.

“It’s going to be placed in Vojanovy sady [park] in Malá Strana.”

I guess that must mean a lot for you, because she really is a big name in international architecture and design?

“It’s a great honour to have Eva Jiřičná on board for this year’s Signal.

“And, as she said, in her whole career she has never been approached by a light festival or digital arts festival to create something specific for the festival itself.

Signal Festival 2018,  photo: Štěpánka Budková
“So even for her – and I hope that I’m not paraphrasing – it was a great challenge and opportunity to do something a little bit different.”

Signal is running from Thursday night to Sunday night. On Friday people will be paying their last respects to Karel Gott, the singer, and on Saturday it’s going to be a day of national mourning for him. Will that impact Signal?

“Yes, all these events will be influencing Signal festival and the festival will be respectfully reflecting on what is going on with the mourning.

“On Friday we will be limiting sound levels at the installation which is just 50 metres from Žofín [Palace, where the public can pay their last respects to Karel Gott] on Smetanovo nábřeží.

“On Saturday we will be starting the festival on Karlínské náměstí with one minute of silence to pay respects.”

Will people be able to get to the installation by Žofín, considering that there are going to be, they say, hundreds of thousands of people around, trying to pay their final respects to Karel Gott?

“Yes, we have been working with the Crisis Team to try to figure this out and there’s going to be a strong police presence.

“I think there are going to be two groups of people who will be partially overlapping.

“But I hope that everything is going to go smoothly and respectfully, between one group and another.

“So it is going to be crowded, I’m sure, but I believe that the installation and the mourning can go well, side by side.”