Prague - Czech art group of controversial reputation Ztohoven has its online supporters who started a petition against the artists' charge.
Seven of the group members were accused last July for hacking into the Czech public TV broadcasting where they broadcasted within a life show a simulated explosion in the Northern Bohemian village of Černý Důl.
Seven members of the group were charged for fear-mongering and now they are facing up to three years of prison.
In the mean time, the group Ztohoven won a Czech National Gallery award, which caused controversy within the artistic and expert community.
The process with artists is about to start in the next few weeks, in the mean time about 1,000 supporters signed an online petition against the charges, started at the Institute of Information Studies and Librarianship.
Klaus can pardon
The petitioners have sent their document to the Czech president Vaclav Klaus. His taste is, however, somewhat conservative and it is unclear if he would have an understanding for Ztohoven´s controversial artistic works.
Klaus is the one who can pardon the artists based on Czech constitution. One of the petitioners Denisa Kera, the new media exhibition curator, and other petitioners do not dispute that the group actually did use Czech TV's property without authorisation.
According to them the artists did not intend to frighten people. The nuke blast in the middle of the mountainous scenery that they created was so absurd, say the petitioners, that everyone could see that the report was an exaggeration.
Transmitters of reality?
The unexpectedly tough reaction of the Czech public TV then just confirmed that traditional media consider themselves to be the transmitters of reality.
The initiators of the petition stress out that the performance helped to draw worldwide attention to the Czech contemporary art in the media across the world. Reactions in the American CNN and The New York Times and British Guardian were rather positive.
The founders of the petition consider the charge of the artists to be a precedent that may embarrass the Czech Republic abroad "because that would make us the only Western country that sends its artists to prison".
Real weight to be seen
The group itself is not involved in the petition, its members see the petition without much passion. They agree that their performance caused many reactions - both negative and positive.
They do not think that the petition could have a real impact on the process itself. Nonetheless, they value that people who sign the petition feel the need to express themselves publicly.
So far, about one thousand people signed the petition. It remains unclear what kind of real weight the online petition might have.