In Brief

Art Students Erase Historic Graffiti Wall in Prague

The buffed Lennon Wall (photo by @rickchan66/Instagram)
The buffed Lennon Wall (photo by @rickchan66/Instagram)

The so-called John Lennon Wall in Prague, which, since its namesake’s assassination in 1980, has been a popular destination for tourists, taggers, and street artists, was completely erased with white paint on Monday by an artist collective calling itself Prague Service.

The John Lennon Wall shortly after it was buffed by Prague Service (photo by @matushy/Instagram)
The John Lennon Wall shortly after it was buffed by Prague Service (photo by @matushy/Instagram) (click to enlarge)

Buffing years of accumulated graffiti, the group left the wall entirely white save for the sentence “Wall Is Over!,” the AFP reported, an allusion to the subtitle of Lennon’s song “Happy Xmas (War Is Over).” The artists timed their white-washing to coincide with the 25th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution — the nonviolent uprising that led to the end of Communism in Czechoslovakia — and said they hoped that their gesture would “offer a free space for the messages of a rising generation,” according to the AFP.

It didn’t take long for others to take advantage of the free space and begin filling the Lennon Wall with tags again. However, the wall’s owner, the Order of Malta, was not so quick to dismiss the incident, and is pursuing legal action against the artists.

Though intended as an homage to Czechoslovakia’s overthrow of Communism, the collective’s wholesale buffing of the popular attraction unwittingly replicated the behavior of the former Communist authorities, who regularly painted over the subversive messages inscribed on the wall during the 1980s. Prague’s Lennon Wall recently inspired a similar mural in Hong Kong as part of the city’s ongoing pro-democracy demonstrations.

The John Lennon Wall in October 2014 (photo by  Steven Feather/Flickr)
The John Lennon Wall in October 2014 (photo by Steven Feather/Flickr)
The John Lennon Wall in 2012 (photo by  Brian Jeffery Beggerly/Flickr)
The John Lennon Wall in 2012 (photo by Brian Jeffery Beggerly/Flickr)
The John Lennon Wall in 2011 (photo by  erigion/Flickr)
The John Lennon Wall in 2011 (photo by erigion/Flickr)
A bas relief portrait on the John Lennon Wall in 2007 (photo by brandon schauer/Flickr)
A bas relief portrait on the John Lennon Wall in 2007 (photo by brandon schauer/Flickr)
The John Lennon Wall circa 1983 (photo by David Sedlecký via Wikimedia Commons)
The John Lennon Wall circa 1983 (photo by David Sedlecký, via Wikimedia Commons)
The John Lennon Wall in August 1981 (photo by Neptuul via Wikimedia Commons)
The John Lennon Wall in August 1981 (photo by Neptuul, via Wikimedia Commons)
Crowds at the John Lennon Wall in 2012 (photo by  Sheep"R"Us/Flickr)
Crowds at the John Lennon Wall in 2012 (photo by Sheep”R”Us/Flickr)
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