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Havel's Place


Havel's Place is a project of memorial places dedicated to the last president of Czechoslovakia and the first president of the Czech Republic, Václav Havel. The place consists of two garden chairs connected by a round table and a tree usually going through its middle.

Origins

The original idea for "Havel's Place" came from the Czech Ambassador to the United States Petr Gandalovič. He invited Bořek Šípek, an architect and designer, to create a piece of public art with President Václav Havel and his democratic views in mind. Šípek had overseen a decade long renovation of Prague Castle interiors as the Head Architect to President Havel in the 1990s and made a number of arte pieces for his close friend. In the documentary revealing former Czech president Václav Havel's private moments, Citizen Havel (2008), created by Pavel Koutecký and Miroslav Janek, the President noted that he would like people to subconsciously connect his person with Bořek Šípek’s design and art.[citation needed]

Šípek came up with a simple yet creative design symbolising "Democratic Debate" comprising two metal garden chairs connected to a table around a Linden Tree, the national tree of the Czech Republic. His idea was to create a gathering place in a public space to promote dialogue, discussion and freedom of speech. Bořek Šípek called the installation "Democracy Talks" and referred to it as "a place where people can meet and exercise their freedom of speech in a democratic dialogue with others".

Tomáš Halík, a close friend of Havel, in an interview for Czech radio broadcast on 5 October 2013 said about the installation "The bench with the two chairs symbolises the willingness to sit down at a table and talk. That is, in my opinion, another important message left by Václav Havel: Even as people of different opinions, different political beliefs and different religions, it is still immensely important to sit down at a table and talk to one another in search for the truth.”[1]

Partner cities

The first Havel's Place was installed in the grounds of Georgetown University in Washington D.C on 2 October 2013,[2] thanks to the support of Georgetown University, Embassy of the Czech Republic in Washington, D.C., Václav Havel Library and American Friends of Czech Republic. It was dedicated by former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Dagmar Havlová, Havel's widow.[3]

The first "Havel's Place" in Europe was installed in St. Patrick's Park in Dublin, Ireland on Human Rights Day 2013 (10 December) by the Lord Mayor of Dublin Oisin Quinn and Karel Schwarzenberg President Havel's former Chancellor.[4][dead link] The Dublin project was conceived and promoted by Art for Amnesty Founder Bill Shipsey.[citation needed]

"Espai Havel" ("Havel's Place" in Catalan) was dedicated in Barcelona by the Mayor of Barcelona, Xavier Trias, and Karel Schwarzenberg on 15 February 2014 in Ciutadella Park beside the Catalan Parliament building.[5]

On May 1st, 2014 the fourth Havel's Place was dedicated in Maltese Square in Havel's home town of Prague.[6]

On June 11, 2014 the fifth Havel's Place was unveiled in the University of South Bohemia in České Budějovice as part of an international project of public places dedicated to the late Czech president.[7]

On September 27, 2014 the sixth 'Havel's Place' was unveiled on the Campus of Venice International University, San Servolo Island. Venice. Ambassador Umberto Vattani, President of Venice International University, Petr Burianek, Czech Ambassador to Italy, Honorary Consul of the Czech Republic, Giorgio Boatto, Professor Agar Brugiavini, the Dean of Venice International University, Jorgensen, Bill Shipsey of Art for Amnesty and Bořek Šípek the artist creator of the piece, were all in attendance.[8]

On October 4, 2014, the 7th Havel’s Place was unveiled in front of the café at the Municipal Library in Hradec Králové, Czech Republic. The creation of a Havel’s Place in Hradec Králové was initiated by deputy mayor Josef Krofta.[9]

On November 2014, two Havel's Places were unveiled to honour the 25th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution. The 8th Havel's Place was unveiled on November 6th at Oxford University on the banks of the river Cherwell.[10] The 9th, at The Hague, November 8th, at Lange Voorhout, by Jozias van Aarsten,Mayor of The Hague, H.E. Jaroslav Horák, Ambassador of the Czech Republic to the Netherlands, Eduard Nazarski, Netherlands Amnesty International Director and artist of the piece, Bořek Šípek.[11]

The next Havel's Place is scheduled to be dedicated in Brussels. There are plans to dedicate more "Havel's Places" in the coming year to mark the 25th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution.

See also

References