for the truth...

11/09/19 - 10/10/19
Lapidary of the Bethlem Chapel
for the truth...



This project is taking place on the presumed 650th anniversary of the birth of famed Czech church reformer Jan Hus, as well as the 30th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution. The basic idea is to offer a forum for debates on the subject of “truth” in the wider context of Czech history, and with the aid of various notable figures associated with the visual arts and architecture.


In 2015, on the occasion of the 600th anniversary of the Jan Hus’ burning at the stake, an art installation created by Ateliér SAD was installed on the facade of the Bethlehem Chapel. Featuring the slogan “Za pravdu” (For the Truth) the installation was designed to only be easily readable in the afternoon hours between May and August, when the angle of the Sun enables the artwork to cast stencilled shadows of the words. The installation perfectly encapsulates the notion that while truth may be eternal, our ability to clearly see it depends on various external circumstances. But when we are able to see it, then it serves as a shining path beckoning us to follow in its footsteps.


The late former Czech president Václav Havel’s famous adage that “The truth will triumph over lies and hatred” (“Pravda zvítězí nad lží a nenávistí”) is not, nor was it ever, a true political slogan. Rather, it served as an expression uttered by an author and playwright who enjoyed wordplay. Which is why at first the phrase became popularised, then belittled in certain quarters, and then – in an absurd situation mirroring Havel’s own plays – it was taken literally and even refuted. But the 30th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution offers a chance to take up Havel’s wishful subjunctive afresh – as a poetic, artistic expression, deliberately removed from the world of contemporary politics.


In light of the post-modern effort to cast doubt on the notion of truth as a binding universal concept that extends to our political sphere, we are now seeing that while a deconstruction of “truth” was essential, equally essential is to once again rebuild the idea – differently. We may not yet know exactly the manner and form of such a rebuilding, but we do realise the urgency of such a task. Specific artworks offer us direction in this regard. They don’t set out to tell us the nature of truth, but rather the artists convey that in all instances of verifying their own experiences, and then sharing what they have discovered via particular forms, they can impart us with a greater sense of resilience and strength to face the current state of the world.