On Friday I was lucky enough to sit down with David Cerny, charming, charismatic and notoriously controversial creator of the ‘London Booster’, a groaning double decker bus propped up on hydraulic arms currently on display in Islington as part of the Czech Republic’s Olympic House. Cerny, undoubtedly the Czech Republic’s most prominent living artist gained notoriety in 1991 when he painted a Soviet tank, serving as a war memorial in central Prague, pink, an act for which he was briefly arrested. Cerny’s ‘London Booster’ is evidently far less politically provocative and by contrast has become quite the tourist attraction. Get down to the Islington Design Centre to see ‘London Booster’ in action!
NB: Tell me a bit about your work, what inspired you to create it?
DC: ‘London Booster’ is the result of my thinking about London and about sport, physical exercise. Push ups are super universal and ‘London Booster’ is essentially a London bus doing push ups. I hope also though that people see the irony behind the piece, there’s a double meaning there… physical strain is somehow ridiculous, push ups are at once a signifier of masculinity and quite emasculating.
The video screens that form the windows of the bus show an abstract, oily rendering of ‘Amorpha’, a 1912 painting by Czech cubist Frantisek Kupka [also the inspiration for the Czech team’s logo and kit]. I did also have the screens showing images of floating fountain pens, [in response to Czech president Vaclav Klaus’ hilarious pen stealing slip up during a press conference in Chile in 2011] but the authorities didn’t like it and turned it off.
NB: What will happen to the bus after the Olympics/Olympiad?
DC: After the Olympics ‘London Booster’ will be installed in Prague in front my sponsor, Andre Babis’ company building.
NB: What are you favourite places in London and why?
DC: I love Brick Lane, Spitalfields, I used to love the old Spitalfields market, it was incredible and cave like. I love London’s architecture.
NB: Do you have any upcoming UK shows?
DC: No, sadly not. I have had shows in London in the past, 20 years ago I was involved in a street art exhibition called ‘Edge’ (1992) in which I exhibited ‘The Day of Killing’, huge 4 metre guns around Spitalfields. It was my idea to have one of my guns installed on Trafalgar Square’s 4th plinth but it never worked out. In 1999/2000 my piece, the hanging man was installed on the side of The National Theatre to mark the 10th anniversary of the end of Communism.
I also have new work planned that will be installed in Prague, Moscow and the U.S.
NB: Tell us something no one knows about you.
DC: Ummm, I fly a glider in my spare time…. It’s one of my aims to be a bush pilot somewhere like South Africa and to work for Doctors Without Borders.