Award given to guerilla art group awaiting trial

7. 12. 2007
National Gallery sees artistic value in TV hijack act

Prague - A Czech art group Ztohoven won the first ever Prize NG333, awarded by the Czech National Gallery.

The "piece" which won the guerilla art ensemble recognition from the prestigious institution was their hijack of Czech Television broadcast last June.

In a project called Media Reality, the ingeniously called Ztohoven group (a play on words which can either mean "Out of that" or "A hundred turds" - written differently in Czech, but sounding the same) managed to smuggle a video montage displaying nuclear explosion into Panorama morning show on Czech TV.

READ MORE: Czech TV off the hook after airing a mock nuke blast

The action, naturally, attracted a lot of attention - even internationally, with people from all over the world being able to see the group's undertaking on the internet.

Although the group's alleged goal was to trigger the broader discussion about rich possibilities of manipulation in (and by) the media, the whole project rather invited interest of the authorities in the very "art-diversionist" act.

Charged and awarded. In this order

Seven members of the group were accused of inducing public panic. They have been already informed about the charge and currently they are waiting for the proceedings to begin.

The National Gallery announced the competition for artists under 33 years of age in June. The main prize, which was 333 thousand Czech crowns, was donated, rather ironically, by a security company Securitas.

It is also worth mentioning that the group was nominated by a third party and its members' unwillingness to provide their real names nearly cost them the participation.

Another complication was that a company Sitour, the author of the program Panorama, didn't permit the respective footage to be used.  

The members attended the award-giving ceremony incognito, hidden among other spectators. The award was presented to their lawyer, who casually informed the jury he neither understood art, nor wanted to inflict harm upon himself.

"Endorsing a crime is punishable by one year in prison," he reminded the applauding audience, highlighting the absurdity of the situation. 

"It can be even seen as the National Gallery being on our side in this conflict with the establishment," Roman Týc, a member of the group, told Aktuálně.cz.

autor: Radek Wohlmuth

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