Vladimír Franz – the artist who would be president
It is impossible to miss Czech artist and composer Vladimír Franz in a crowd: the professor, who teaches Music in Theatre Performance at DAMU in Prague, is tattooed on all visible parts of his body, including his face and hands. Now Mr Franz is also one of the country’s most unusual - and most unexpected – candidates for president.
All the same, many are still sceptical that anyone so heavily tattooed could – or should – be the next head-of-state. When I asked about his body art, here’s what the candidate told me:
“Tattooing is a private thing but I will say there is always room for more tolerance and the spread of tolerance in society. I don’t know and I can’t influence how different publications write about me, so I don’t really worry about it. I think [the tattoos] should be seen as something extra, as added value on top of my experience as an artist, as a composer and as a university professor.”
“We live in a country where we have a system and the model works, to a greater, sometimes lesser degree. But it works. The problems, the way I see it, are in human failure. Voters choose politicians to guide the country, but many of them have largely become interested only in themselves and in their own benefit and don’t care about the state. So I see the problem as a ‘moral’ one, not structural.”
As an artist Franz has authored scores for many theatre plays and is a six-time winner of the Alfred Radok award, and he admitted in our interview that if elected the transition from artist to head-of-state would come with certain risks or roadblocks, some of which were no doubt experienced by another artist who became president, former dissident and playwright Václav Havel. As an artist, Vladimír Franz, too, would like to bring a fresh approach as head-of-state, untarnished he says, by the current culture in politics.
Whether Vladimír Franz, tattoos and all, will be able to find broader support is a question which will be known shortly into the New Year; to be successful he will still have to pick up momentum: currently opinion polls place him at around 6.6 percent among likely voters, far behind the current frontrunners.