Czech artist gives Communists and Leftists the Finger

thefingerThe Czech artist David Cerny’s sculpture floats in the Vltava River and is aimed at the presidential residence, Prague Castle, in the background.

Mr. Cerny is not known for understatement or diplomacy after displaying a caricature of a former Czech president inside an enormous fiberglass rear end.

But on Monday, Mr. Cerny, 45, took his political satire to new heights when, on the eve of Czech general elections this weekend, he installed on the Vltava River a 10m plastic purple hand with a raised middle finger. It is a symbol, he said, that points directly at the Prague Castle, the seat of the current Czech president, Milos Zeman.

Mr. Cerny said the monumental hand with its outstretched middle finger, placed on a float facing the castle, was a “scream of alarm” against the state of politics in the Czech Republic, endemic corruption and Mr. Zeman, a former leftist prime minister, whom he accused of becoming intoxicated with power.

He said the sculpture, which he gave an unprintable title, was also aimed at the country’s Communist Party, which could gain a share of power in the coming elections for the first time since the revolution that overthrew communism more than two decades ago.

“This finger is aimed straight at the castle politics,” Mr. Cerny said by phone from Prague, the Czech capital. “After 23 years, I am horrified at the prospect of the Communists returning to power and of Mr. Zeman helping them to do so.”

Mr. Zeman, who was visiting Ukraine on Monday, declined to comment through a spokeswoman, who told the Czech news media that he had not yet seen the sculpture.

The sculpture is part of a Czech tradition of cultural rebellion dating to Communist times, when artists, writers and musicians like the Plastic People of the Universe used subversive lyrics or gestures to revolt against authority.