Czech Citizen K: Artist arrested for identity fraud
21. 6. 2010 12:58
For six months, art group's members switched their identities
Prague - A member of controversial Czech art group Ztohoven was arrested for using fake ID cards and other official documents. The group's exploit was documented by an exhibition called Občan K (Citizen K) displayed in a gallery in the center of Prague. The group said it wanted to point out how easy it is to exploit personal information of anybody.
On Friday 18 June, police rushed into the public exposition, collecting the fake IDs displayed there and arresting Roman Týc, the most famous member of the group noted for hacking into a public service TV program with a video montage displaying what looked like a genuine nuke explosion in June 2006. Eventually, they won a prize awarded by the National Gallery in Prague, but also faced a legal charge.
The group's name, Ztohoven, is a play on words which can either mean "Out of that" or "A hundred turds" - written differently in Czech, but sounding the same.
„At the station they wanted to know my identity, but they released me quickly," Týc said to the Czech Press Agency (ČTK).
Show me your papers, sir
The group exploited the fact that any person asking for a Czech ID card can provide the issuing bureau with his or her own photo. It appears that the artists used photos modified by a so-called morphing method for their IDs. "Morphing" merges two different faces into a single face which maintains the facial features of both. Police thus considered the documents false.
In addition, each member of the group asked for an ID card issued on name of one of their colleagues. Allegedly, they lived under false identities for six months - they claim to have used their fake IDs to vote in the late-May legislative elections, some of them traveled abroad or even get married.
Týc was apprehended after failing to identify himself to the police. He was not able to do that since his newly issued ID card was part of the exhibition which was being confiscated at the moment. „I was not able to identify myself, which I said (to the police). But they demanded it nevertheless, and transported me to the police station," Týc said. He was released after his lawyer came, without being charged of anything.
According to Týc, it was not necessary for police to confiscate the exhibits, it would be sufficient to take pictures of them.
The artist has already crossed the law several times. Týc was fined CZK 60,000 (EUR 2,300) for modifying Prague's pedestrian crossing lights - Týc replaced the green and red walking and standing figures with figures in comical situations or positions. At the court, Týc alleged that he was David Brudňák, another artist, however the court stated that Týc and Brudňák are the same person.