Last but not least, Krištof Kintera, the project’s Czech participant, aimed to explore questions of using public space. His work titled 1€ PUBLIC JUKE BOX was exactly what its name said: a juke-box on a pedestal, which could be used by anyone by inserting a one-euro coin, and the sound from the machine could then be heard all over the square. However, instead of the usual music played in pubs, this juke box offered a much more eclectic choice: a mix of Václav Havel’s speeches, Strauss’s Radetzky March, dog barking, whale whistles, Beethoven, the Sex Pistols and others. The extent to which it is possible for someone to play their favourites echoing in the public space for one euro is amply shown by the number of complaints people living or working around the square made to the police…
Parts of the Project Point 0 in 2011, these projects proposed ways to use Námestie Slobody. As nothing changed over time, several other artistic actions have taken place there since then: Based on the Public Pedestal, Magdalena Kuchtova made a performance there in 2014, and in 2016, Jonáš Gruska used the fountain for a site-specific sound installation in the Nomadic Arts Festival.
Unfortunately, nothing seems to have changed so far. Now, in the autumn of 2017, the place can still be called “the square where time has stopped”. Námestie Slobody is the total opposite of its counterpart in Budapest: while Szabadság tér has become a space in ever-ongoing games of the politics of memory, Námestie Slobody is the frozen memory of the communist era, waiting for urban planners to reanimate it and bring it to a better and more fitting life.
Brno – the dilemma of the phallic clock
Compared to its namesakes in Budapest and Bratislava, Brno’s Náměstí Svobody may not seem very special. While a place of special importance in the city’s life, and also the location of a controversial monument, its function is totally different from that of the other two squares.
One of Brno’s centres, Náměstí Svobody presents a totally different view of history with its monuments, compared to those manifest in the capitals of Slovakia and Hungary. Formerly a marketplace, today the square is a transport hub and a site of various fairs. At present, there are four monuments there: a column erected in 1689 as a reminder of the outbreak of the plague; a bronze fountain ornamented with a few lines by local poet Jan Skácel; the discreet outlines of the foundations of the demolished Church of St Nicholas on the pavement; and last but not least, an astronomical clock made of black granite. Installed in 2010, this monument has been sparking disputes ever since.