Czech culture this week: Art from a Chinese exile and a new expat novel

Plus: An arthouse favorite turns 18, major exhibits devoted to Chinese activist open, and a rare performance of an iconic Czech opera. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 08.05.2022 20:00:00 (updated on 10.05.2022) Reading time: 3 minutes

read Dark troubles in a fictitious country

Photo via author's Facebook page
Photo via author's Facebook page

Duncan Robertson’s new book Visegrad: A Novel (New Europe Books, 2022) takes place in an imaginary world that combines elements of Prague, Budapest, Warsaw, Krakow, and Berlin. The protagonist, an expat writer named Rye, gets himself mixed up with loan sharks who are collecting student debt. Rye finds himself in over his head and blocked from leaving the country. In the tradition of expat novels such as "Necessary Errors," "The Russian's Debutante Handbook," and "Prague" whose author Arthur Phillips blurbed the book: “Visegrad is very funny and very insightful—into Central Europe, into the U.S., into the expat mind." Available from bookstores and online retailers.  

visit Exhibits devoted to activists then and now

Badiucao's work addresses human rights in China. Photo; Badiucao
Badiucao's work addresses human rights in China. Photo; © Badiucao.

Badiucao, the pseudonym of a Chinese artist-activist known for his protest art, currently works in exile in Australia. His first solo show MADe IN CHINA shows graphic, painted, and multi-material works reflecting on human rights violations not only in China. It also features his most recent works reflecting the war in Ukraine. DOX, May 13–Aug. 28. Read more here.

A simple gesture ended the career of Czech gymnast Věra Čáslavská, who protested the Soviet Union by looking away when that country’s anthem was played at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico. The simple gesture all but ended her career. The exhibition, on what would have been her 80th birthday, displays her medals, awards, and her life in photographs. New Building of the National Museum, until Sept. 30. Read more here.  

watch A Prague arthouse cinema is now old enough to drink

Photo via Wikipedia Commons
Photo via Wikipedia Commons CC BY-SA 3.0

Prague’s Kino Světozor celebrates its 18th birthday this week with a program of adult-themed films for an over 18 audience including the erotic comedy “Shortbus,” both parts of Lars von Trier's “Nymphomaniac,” and Gaspar Noé’s “Love.” Světozor, May 10–12. Read more here and here.

listen Acclaimed blues and hip hop from the American south

Arrested Development 'Mr Wendal'

Hip-hop group Arrested Development formed in 1988 to create music with a positive message. Their 1992 album “3 Years, 5 Months and 2 Days in the Life Of…” has been their most successful but they have had over a dozen since then including last year’s “For the Fkn Love.” Lucerna Music Bar, May 11. Read more here.  

Blues musician and five-time Grammy Award winner Keb' Mo' has been called a living link to the Delta blues, though he puts a modern take on it. He appears in Prague as part of the ongoing Prague International Bluenight concert series. Divadlo Archa, May 9. Read more here and here.

applaud Classics, comedy, and circus

Photo "Cesty" via Azyl78

Cirk La Putyka ensemble’s most ambitious show The Roads (Cesty) pay tribute to circus art and its history. The show is highly visual but does rely on the Czech language to convey some of the four-part story. Azyl78, Výstaviště, May 10–14. Read more here and here.

A London-based pro comic originally from New York, Mike Capozzola played a veteran MiB Agent in "Men in Black International" and could be seen for about a second in “The Batman” as a TV moderator. The Fitzgerald (aka Hotel Alwyn), May 11. Read more here.

Classical music fans will want to check out the festival Prague Spring 2022, which as always starts with Smetana’s “Má vlast.” This year it will be performed by the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra. There will also be a concert for Ukraine. May 12–June 3. Read more here and here.

Bedřich Smetana’s opera Libuše was first performed for the opening of the National Theatre in 1881 and is only staged a few time a year, usually on state holidays. The story depicts the myth of the princess who is alleged to have founded Prague. With English surtitles. National Theatre (Historical Building), May 12. Read more here.

stream Czech rom-coms for May

Sun, Hay, and a Few Slaps 1989

As May is considered the month of love and May 1 is the Czech equivalent of Valentine's Day, Czech Netflix has curated a selection of romantic films (most of them with English subtitles). From classics such as "Sun, Hay, and a Few Slaps" to contemporary, the 2021 "Mothers," salute spring with a Czech rom-com.

celebrate Europe Day celebrates 18 years of Czech EU membership

This year marks 18 years since the Czech Republic's accession to the EU. Learn more about other members of the bloc at Europe Day (Den Evropy). The main stage will have music from 6:20 pm, headlined by the band 7krát3. Discussions, debates, and presentations start at 1 pm. Střelecký ostrov, May 9. Read more here and here.

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