For as long as I have been living in Prague (Almost two years! Where has the time gone?!) I have been a frequent visitor to the infamous John Lennon Wall. Not because I come to spray paint, write or decorate the wall in any way, but because it is a happy place where you always find groups of bubbly tourists, teenagers and lovers leaving their small (sometimes large) marks on the wall. Yes some can argue its simply graffiti, some argue it is street art. I like to believe its a wall of self expression. Whether its a message to a loved one, a souvenir photo, a lyrical phrase from one of John Lennons songs or a one off masterpiece, everyone who leaves their marks leaves a unique mark – and that’s what makes this wall so special.
But on the eve of the 17th November the wall was painted over completely white by a group art students claiming they did it to mark the 25th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution which was celebrated on that day. Painting over years of accumulated tags, graffiti and street art, the only thing left was the sentence “WALL IS OVER” a play on of John Lennon’s “Happy Xmas – War is Over” song.
The wall, in Prague, began to be painted with Lennon’s images and related graffiti after the Beatle’s assassination in 1980. Under the communist regime it became a symbol of freedom and opposition to communism and young people used to meet there to light candles and lay flowers.
While this isn’t the first time the wall has been painted over many feel it was unfair to the hundreds of people who visit the wall and a reminder of the behavior of the former Communist authorities, who regularly painted over the subversive messages inscribed on the wall during the 1980s.
While it was a shock to us locals many believe that this white wash offers a free space for the messages of a rising generation and it wasn’t long until street artists and tourists took advantage of the clean space to begin filling the wall again once more.
Have you visited the John Lennon Wall in Prague? What’s your opinion? Did the art students have a right to paint over everyone’s art or do you agree it a good fresh start for a wall covered in graffiti? Let me know your thoughts!