Trip to Prague, 22-27 September 2000
The Messenger, representing a masai-woman dressed in a black cowl carrying a staff, is Jens Galschiot’s contribution to the world-wide organization Jubilee 2000’s work all over the world to delete the debts of the third world to the rich countries, we definitely had to bring with us to Prague as well as the 20 cobber-masks produced at our workshop, which were later going to be placed on top of a 3 metres high bamboo bar wrapped in black velour, which like our intended black dresses with black velour cowls all together was to illustrate the sufferings of the third world.
Friday, 22nd September 2000
After eating a substantial meal with spaghetti, meat and tasty gravy produced by Betina and myself, we started out 10 people in two vans overloaded with sculptures and full equipments in order to reach our destination, Prague in order to participate in the big demonstration against the World Bank, and to strike a blow for the release of the debts of the third world to the Western World.
The journey through Denmark and Germany went without troubles of any kind, and the drivers and all of us by turns got a nap. But reaching the Czech border the troubles began, and bureaucracy showed its ugly face. After 2 hours of thorough paper pushing, close examination of all our luggage from underwear to painkillers, we were finally allowed to drive on, however with only one car, Jens having forgotten the registration paper to his car, which we had to leave on the German side of the border. Somewhat away from the Czech border all 10 of us entered the car left over, which had only left room for 7 persons, so we felt a bit cramped, but having just about a hundred kilometres left for Prague, we endured the pain and reached our destination, an enormous stadium – a left over from the flowering season of the communism. Actually we had expected to see thousands of tents, but only a few teepees towered towards a cloudless sky.
Saturday, 23rd September 2000
A bit disappointed we started to organize our own little camp of tents, and afterwards we ate a relatively nice pizza together with wine from the house in one of the tents made for this purpose, and while later in the evening a couple of us drove to the city to put up the Messenger, the rest of us prepared the 20 masks on staff for the Sunday demonstration, accompanied by some bottles of local white wine and high spirits!!
Sunday, 24th September 2000
Sunday we were roused from our sleeping bags at the ungodly hour of 7.00, which was an unpleasant necessity, as the demonstration started 9.00 in one of Prague’s extraordinary beautiful churches, where several interesting people kept speeches, beautiful hymns and songs were sung and fresh French loaf and grapes were served to the audience – us! And then after the service the long march through a part of Prague began, which among other thing implied forcing innumerable stairs, which must at least have reached half way to the sky, which almost gave a supernatural feeling of God being present for us and the outcasts this day.
Again a lot of speeches were kept in different languages, the flashes were sparkling, the microphones were rumbling, and the coloured crowd of human beings carrying different symbols, among these our own masks rising high above the human crowd, and all these things together formed a beautiful, colourful and undemonstrative picture of a peaceful march against injustice.
The demonstration ended with a peaceful "sit-down"-hour, where you had the opportunity to make remarks and change souvenirs with casual people from other countries.
Later this Sunday we split up in different groups, everybody doing, what they liked, and some of us visited a small inn just outside Prague, where we among other things had a delicious Mexican soup served, which we ate together with several tequilas – a magnificent combination (you really got the inner warmth), and as Monday was already appointed to be a day of relaxing, it also meant, that we did not have to get up at an unearthly hour.
Monday. 25th September 2000
This day was mainly used to have a closer look at the sights of the beautiful Prague, the many handsome and beautiful churches and buildings, and especially the river Moldau, which runs through the city. Also shopping was made and gifts were bought for the left ones in Denmark, interrupted by pauses with eating and drinking.
Tuesday, 26th September 2000
Then came the big demonstration day, and in the morning we decorated our van with banners and the 20 masks at the pitch. During the night a large crowd of Italians had arrived to the place. They were obviously rather upset being retained almost 24 hours at the border, and they were therefore dressing up with dresses like those you use for palying ice-hockey, which might indicate, that they expected the worst.
After that we drove against the centre of Prague, where we met with thousands of other demonstrators. The first couple of hours we distributed handbills, were interviewed by several journalists and talked to people. Everything went on in a most kind and released atmosphere without signs of excitement.
Later the demonstrators were divided into 3 groups, a blue, a pink and a yellow group, and we followed the yellow group, which among other things was accompanied by a cheerful jazz orchestra, which increased the good, cheerful atmosphere. The yellow and the pink group consisted of peaceful demonstrators, while the blue was more militant. The yellow group mowed towards the blocking of the motorway, where the Italians mentioned before were peaceful people, who stood between the Czech police and the demonstrators and in this way had an effect as "mediators" between the groups. Later we moved towards the Opera in order to prevent the visitors in visiting the Opera, in which we succeeded. In spite of or because of a massive police marking no disturbances were threatening at any time, where we were. The troubles, which obviously happened, we had to read about in the news- papers the next day, and only a long time after having returned to Denmark, we learned about the young Danish people, who had obviously been arrested wrongfully.
After a long day we returned to stadium, and while a couple of us fetched the Messenger, the rest of us packed the camp.
About 23.00 o’clock everything was packed, and we were ready to begin the long journey home to Denmark. We had only driven about a couple of kilometres, again 10 people crammed together in the same car, as bureaucracy showed its grinning mug again in shape of the Czech police, who told us, what we already knew: The car was only made for 7 persons, so after Vagn having used his best Russian, 4 of us took a taxi 10 kilometres outside the city, where we broke the law again the last 90 kilometres, and believe it or not – oh yes, for the third time the above mentioned met us with a laugh, and we had to spend what seemed like a hundred years in freezing cold, until the uniformed petty officials had tormented us enough. The only one, who did not freeze, was Jens. He was livid with rage.
At last – big reunion happiness with the left turquoise, and then the trip after 17 hours and a fat volume ended on Banevaenget 22 with a needed cup of coffee.
More information on our sculptures in Prague, main index