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Art has kept us sane, says Prague coronavirus exhibition curator

A masked John Lennon on Prague's Lennon Wall
A masked John Lennon on Prague's Lennon Wall Michal Cizek AFP/File
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Prague (AFP)

Fancy face masks and protective shields feature next to printed-out versions of paintings and graffiti, photographs, sculptures, music and video at a Prague exhibition of Covid-19 art created during the pandemic.

Its curator told AFP Friday the travelling exhibition comprising more than 2,000 works by 500 people from 60 countries was meant as a tribute to artists whose work has kept the world sane during the pandemic.

"A key motivation was the fact that artists helped us mentally survive the pandemic, so it's a way to thank them," said curator Pavel Stastny, an artist himself.

When the pandemic struck Prague in the spring, Stastny slapped a face mask on the large graffiti portrait of John Lennon on Prague's iconic Lennon Wall.

The wall once served as a shrine for those seeking freedom from the Communist regime in the former Czechoslovakia. The regime was toppled in 1989.

Stastny said news of the masked Lennon made its way abroad and caught the attention of French collector Blaise Runart, who added an image of the work to his online collection.

"I became part of a group of artists whose works focussed on Covid-19," Stastny said.

He then began collecting images of works by his peers worldwide via social networks including Instagram and Facebook for the exhibition held through September.

Some of the art was mediated by embassies, and some videos were shot and provided by UNESCO as part of its Next Normal campaign focussed on life after the pandemic.

"The works are fantastic, they capture the ideas and impressions the artists had during the pandemic," visitor Terezie Pokorna told AFP.

"This person made fun of it, that one made a big deal out of it."

From Prague, the exhibition will move on to another Czech city, and perhaps even abroad.

"We are in talks with Belgium, Paris, Serbia, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Thailand," Stastny said.

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