David Cerny Sculpture London Booster Stops Traffic In Islington

David Cerny

The Czech sculptor David Cerny unveils his first major London public commission for over ten years The sculpture titled, London Booster,  is based on a red ‘Routemaster’ bus manufactured in 1957.  Cerny has fitted it out with gigantic working mechanical arms and when switched on it performs press-ups. The work has been commissioned for the Olympics and will be on view outside the Business Design Centre in Islington. Czech House has taken over the centre for the duration of the games.

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Cerny has been responsible for some of the most head turning public sculpture in recent memory. He has become popular with a wider audience with his Monument to Soviet Tank Crews (1991). In an act of guerrilla art, he painted a Soviet Tank war memorial pink. He has since completed other politically charged works such as Shark (2005) and Entropa (2008). The former is based on Damien Hirst’s The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living (1991), but instead of a shark uses a bound figure of Saddam Hussein suspended in formaldehyde; the latter caused both outrage and admiration at its installation in the European Council. Other widely recognised works include Babies on the Tower (2001) in Prague and Metalmorphosis (2007) in North Carolina .

Over the last twenty years Cerny’s works have continued to grow in ambition and scale, and London Booster is no exception. The bus will move up and down to varying heights and angles of elevation and will provide additional video and audio content through the windows which are made from a continuous television screen. The complex engineering required to build this monumental moving piece has taken six months of planning and construction. Cerny comments: “The obsession with sport, the frenzy it generates, sometimes even ending in street war and regularly in a dependence on the activity, always amazed me. And the only sport which I’m able to watch passively is pole dancing. Although objectively speaking, I’m quite sporty: biking, swimming, flying, certainly I would not call myself an athlete. I’m probably obtaining dopamine from other physical sources. Press-ups are a particular physical exercise which every athlete does, but they also form part of a military drill and sometimes are forced on prisoners as punishment.

When I was approached by the architects of the Czech House to work on a piece, I took the challenge and, I hope, besides its monumentality and humour, the London Booster shows a certain ambivalence and irony” The completion of this ambitious project has been made possible through the generous support of Andrej Babiš of Agrofert Holding. After its return to Prague , it will be housed on a specially constructed plinth outside the Agrofert Headquarters accessible to the public. London Booster will be on display from the 24th July 2012 in conjunction with Czech House and its 17 days of sport, culture and entertainment at the Business Design Centre and officially opens on 27 July at 10 am. Czech House is run by the Czech Olympic Committee with the support of many institutional and business partners from the Czech Republic .

David Cerny (b. 1967) lives and works in Prague . He studied at the Academy of Arts , Architecture and Design in Prague (1988-1996) and during this time also completed the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program and the P.S.1 Artists’ residence in New York . In the last twenty years he has established himself as one of the most renowned artists in the Czech Republic as well as gaining an increasing international reputation. A self-confessed anti-conformist, Cerny’s work is often controversial and has led to fractious relationships with not only the art establishment but also government authorities. Nonetheless, Cerny’s work is held by institutions the world over and he has had solo exhibitions in Prague , Berlin , London and the USA . His most notable permanent installations include St Wenceslas (1999) Lucerna Arcade, Babies on the Tower (2001) Zizkov Tower , Piss (2004) in Prague and Metalmorphosis (2007) Charlotte , USA . He is the founder and director of the Meet Factory, a multi media and cultural artists’ residential centre in Prague .