Prague, Czech Republic

tomas-rafa_velka-ida3

Prague is our final destination, where we had the opportunity to meet with artist and activist, Tomas Rafa at the Art Space Gallery. Tomas creates public art as a political statement for social justice. (The Roma flag fence painting on this page is a project of his). We watched two of the short documentaries from his project, New Nationalism in the Heart of Europe, through which he tackles the pressing problem of a rising and racially exclusionary nationalism, which adopts different faces in various European countries. The artist concentrates on the countries he knows and which are closest to him: the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Poland. – See more at: http://your-art.sk/?page_id=37#sthash.MqQkbP4b.dpuf

Tomas recently created several flag designs originally exhibited in Prague’s National Technical Library and the Artwall Gallery in September, 2013. Rafa’s flags are inspired by the Czech Republic’s red, white and blue standard chevron design and the international Roma flag which is blue and dark green with a red spoked-wheel, and these varied flags have been created to represent a new symbol of unity in the Czech Republic. They were unveiled on July 16th in Prague as an art exhibition entitled, “Competition for the New Czech-Roma Flag.” The intention of Rafa’s project was to create a dialogue about patriotism, nationalism and tolerance to minorities in the Czech Republic. The artist was shocked in December, when he was issued with a fine of 2,000 CZK for “defamation of the Czech flag” by Prague 7 authorities. The investigation of this case was initiated by activists in the far-right political party DSSS. Three days before we arrived to view the flags, the police arrived and removed two of the flags from the gallery. A link to more details about the flag art controversy:

Vandalized flag arthttp://www.radio.cz/en/section/curraffrs/artist-fined-over-designs-of-czech-romany-flags://

Below are two short documentaries produces by Tomas Rafa. The first involves the painting of  so-called “sports walls”(aka ‘segregation walls’) installed around Roma communities in Slovakia and Czech Republic. “Building concrete walls does not help mutual understanding and coexisting and only deepens the problem of separating Roma people from the rest of society and leads to serious conflicts as it is clearly visible in Czech Republic,“ says Rafa – See more at: http://your-art.sk/?p=1964#sthash.2mZT7rXk.dpuf

The second video documents the recent  anti-Romany demonstrations around the country, in this case in Ostrava, the third largest city in the Czech Republic. The police faced the biggest clashes with extremists in Ostrava and České Budějovice. In both cities, demonstrators changed the approved route of the rallies and attempted to get near neighborhoods with large Roma populations. In one video the viewer hears the cry, “Gypsies to the gas chambers”

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