The Vltava River
23.06.2006 - 24.11.2006
The backdrop: the 'Dancing Building', known also as 'The Fred and Ginger Building' (or vice versa) or 'the second bombing'.*
The act: I walked along the Vltava River three times a week to the 'dancing building' , a popular sight to see for any visitor. From the metro, I crossed the street to walk along the river. My usual brisk pace slowed to a stroll (my alarm went off earlier on such days). I looked down, locating the fisherman that sat on the cobbled path. I was also treated to a beautiful white swan gliding elegantly (how else do they move?). I heard clapping. He had stood up and was trying to get the ever-approaching bird away from his fishing area. It continued its elegant gliding, and he added a hiss to the clapping. The pest was non-plussed. Turning, he searched for something to throw. I silently wished him luck, as the cobbles were absolutely clean (like most sidewalks in Prague*). He managed to find a pebble, and chucked it near the nuisence. It slowly turned around, as if it had just decided on its own to glide elegantly in a different direction. The fisherman sat down, took up his rod and was silent.
The silence: As I waited for my client on the fourth floor of this famous building, I looked out one of the large windows wrapping around Ginger's body: the steel grey waters, the Prague Castle with its St. Vitas Cathdral up on the right hill, the mini-Eiffel Tower on the left hill; below, the car-clogged streets between traditional old buildings in traffic. During an evening lesson, I spied two men wrapped in burgandy with straps of ochre. They looked up and snapped a photo. I had smiled and waved, but they wouldn't see me in their memento. My smile was still there as they walked toward the famous Charles Bridge.
- The Californian architect Frank O. Gehry and his Czech co-architect Vladimir Milunic have designed an impressive building to fill a space left empty in the centre of Prague after World War II bombing. It is a 'dancing building' and was named "Ginger & Fred" in an allusion to the American film icons. The building is part of the tradition of deconstructive architecture (also known as catastrophe architecture): Gehry's postmodern signature is undeniably visible - and stands in marked contrast to the building's historic setting. It is thus perceived by many people to be an alien element, a Californian eye-sore in one of the few central-European cities not reduced to rubble and ashes at the end of World War II. Some say "Ginger & Fred" repeats the destruction of the cityscape on this site, where American bombs (accidentally) destroyed a building at the end of the war. Thus the name, 'the second bombing'. ('Google' for more info. and photos.)