Prague’s Lennon Wall has a new face and will newly serve as an open-air gallery. The famous tourist attraction, which before the Velvet Revolution served as a symbolic location of unofficial anti-communist protest, underwent a month-long revamp after being vandalised with vulgar graffiti. Prague authorities vowed to officially designate the Lennon Wall as a memorial site. Its new look was unveiled to the public on Thursday afternoon.
“My painting is a black bird which is screaming. There will be a sign next to it saying: ‘Speak loud!’ It will encourage people to always speak their mind and not let anyone forbid them to express their opinion.”
However, tourist agencies eager to profit from its popularity would organise regular spray painting events at the site. This meant that the Lennon Wall appeared more like something one would see in an underground vestibule rather than a symbolic site of anti-Communist resistance. The Sovereign Order of the Knights of Malta, which owns the wall, was compelled to repaint its damaged parts every week, something that did not come cheap.
In July, the Maltese Order entered into negotiations with Prague 1 district authorities on the future of the wall. The order’s chancellor, Johannes Lobkowicz, says it was necessary in order to save the wall’s dignity.
The talks between the two parties were successful. Prague 1 decided to officially designate the Lennon Wall as a memorial site, and more than 30 artists from across the world were asked to provide new, thematic paintings under the leadership of designer Pavel Šťastný.
“We are creating five or six special art zones here. One of the most important will be above the memorial to John Lennon, which will feature a massive image of his glasses.”
Šťastný says that the wall will serve as an open-air gallery and include sections where the public will be able to write their own messages. However, this time, only with pens, not spray paint.
Deputy Mayor of Prague 1 Petr Hejma from the Mayors and Independents says that a whole range of measures will be newly employed to protect the site.
“Police will patrol this location more regularly and cameras will monitor the area as well. Busking is not allowed here, and the Lennon Wall will be designated as a memorial site with clear rules of behaviour.”
Prague 1 and the Maltese Order have agreed to evaluate the effectivity of these new measures in the spring of 2020. For now at least, the Lennon Wall looks fresh for the ongoing 30 Years of Freedom celebrations marking the Velvet Revolution anniversary.