Prague - How one's luck can change... Last month they were awarded for their daring exploits by the National Gallery and now they face up to 3 years in prison. For the same cutting edge hoax.
Six members of a Czech art-guerilla group called Ztohoven, which hacked into a TV programme with a video montage displaying what looked like a genuine nuke explosion in June last year, will have to stand trial in January.
According to the state prosecutor in the northern town of Trutnov Dušan Ondráček, who is in charge of the case, they induced public panic and thus comitted a crime.
Seven in the dock
"I expect the first hearing to take place in the month of January. But it is only an estimate," said Ondráček.
The seventh (and last) member of the group, who has been abroad up to now, is going to face the indictment as well.
"As far as I know he has returned to the Czech Republic and therefore he will be charged soon too. But he will be tried in a separate trial because of his long-term stay abroad," explained the state prosecutor.
However all of the accused are denying that it was their intention to cause panic or mock the national broadcaster. Allegedly, they wanted to highlight how powerful media are and what possibilities they have to manipulate the public's perception of reality.
Big international media like CNN and BBC covered the story as well, which means global viewers have now had a chance to discover for themselves the art-guerilla collective, whose name is as tongue-in-cheek as their antics.
Ztohoven is actually a pun, which can either mean "Out of that" or "A hundred turds" - written differently in Czech, but sounding the same. If nothing else, the group managed to draw the biggest attention to any new Czech artist act in the last decade or more.
After all, the hoax nuke blast on Czech TV did not induce panic nor did it cause an irreversible loss. And the group's record in the police files as well as in the history of Czech art made it a great phenomenon.
The hacking of the Czech TV broadcast certainly brought them more fame than their first art-guerilla piece, another hijacking of sorts. Ztohoven decided to alter a neon heart placed by a renowned Czech artist Jiří David on top of Prague Castle into a question mark in 2003.
The irony of it all is the fact that the state-owned public service Czech TV has taken Ztohoven to court while the state-owned National Gallery has awarded them.
As for the Ztohoven themselves, they don't seem to care that much. Sticking to their aim to stay anonymous, they avoid talking to media.
And they keep ignoring both the National Gallery Director Milan Knížák and Jiří David, who is arguably one of the most influential and famous artists in the Czech lands, in spite of the fact that both of them were the Ztohoven members´ professors at the academy.