Ban of the Artwall Gallery
Artwall Gallery, located on the Letná wall on the embankment of Cpt. Jaros and Edvard Benes and officially the property of the City of Prague, was forcedly closed in the years 2008 - 2011. The closure of the gallery was a result of Municipality's withdrawal from the leasing contract, which came as a response to the exhibition "Collective Identity" presented on Artwall in may 2008 by the art group Guma Guar. This exhibition criticized the consensual corruption in Czech society where the public opinion is often produced by means of PR strategies, and is paid by tax money. In this particular case the artists from Guma Guar reacted to an advertising campaign run by Prague's Municipality, that aimed to persuade Czech citizens that Prague should become a host city for the 2016 Olympic Games.
This campaign depicted popular actors in sporting gear with the slogan “We Are All in the National Team”. In their critical response, Guma Guar used the logo and slogan of the original campaign together with portraits of infamous Czech entrepreneurs known for their financial criminality, corruption, and their close ties with local politicians. Municipality considered this appropriation of a registered logo unlawful in spite of curators affirmation that the logo was used in a non-commercial context and therefore in accordance with the law. Regardless of these explanations, on May 27th 2008, municipal authorities withdrew from the leasing contract and Artwall gallery was closed down.
Thus Artwall became the first gallery after 1989 that had been liquidated for political reasons masked as necessary enforcement of regulations. This practice recalled the censorship strategies used by various totalitarian regimes.
Despite the long-term efforts of curators from the Center for Contemporary Arts Prague and numerous protests from the public (including a petition signed by more than 1800 signatures or happening ILEGO), the gallery remained closed for three years. Municipality management refused to withdraw from its decision, stating formal and pretentious arguments of poor technical condition of the wall or disruption of architectonically protected area of Letná Park. After personal changes in Municipality management, curators of Artwall managed to establish a constructive dialogue and after three years brought the gallery back to life. Since November 2011 the gallery is operated under the patronage of Prague's new Mayor Bohuslav Svoboda and organizational management of the gallery is provided by c2c Circle of curators and critics.