24th June, Prague.
I see cities in a very simple way. I wake up in the morning and walk them. I say a prayer and walk. This has worked very well for me in several occasions – I’ve either been lead to the darkest alleys of cities or met people whose kindness overwhelms me still. But it also has its cons – I’ve been to Delhi several times but have never stepped into the Red Fort where the famous words of Amir Khusrow If there be a paradise on earth, it is this, it is this, it is this is etched. This simple walking is simply faith in God. The belief that where we go is where we ought to be taken to. Quite different from chance and the rolling of a dice.
We woke up that morning and decided to walk to River Vltava and down its winding course. Instead, we ended up at Wenceslas Square, the new town of Prague. After a brief halt in front of the Wenceslas Monument, we began our walk again. We reached the Police Museum and then the Nuselský Bridge from where we spotted a stretch of land with what looked like small statues.
Prague is a city of several standing art exhibitions of Gustav Klimt, Salvador Dali, etc., Czech Republic is home to Alfons Mucha, Helen Zelezny-Scholz, Miroslav Hák and many more from the top of my head. It is the land of artists who wrote, sculpted, painted and preached against its Communist regime.
The area we entered wasn’t a museum. It was the Bastion Restaurant, spread very elegantly below us. Behind it was a stretch of land overlooking the Vysehrad, the Petrin tower and quaint housetops of Prague. But in the green stretch of land that the Bastion Restaurant held were metal sculptures.
At first sight, one could tell that the pieces of every sculpture had come together in a very coincidental way. But the idea behind the sculptures – most of which looked at the sky or pointed to the sky with abundant expression – did not look coincidental. The location was not coincidental. It was almost as if the artist had wanted only the wanderers to spot these half animal – half human forms. Those who came out of the centre, to the periphery, to this steep corner in Horska.
The sculptures bore his name and a number tag. Tom Kus. After returning from Prague, the little about Tomas Kus on the internet suggested that amongst many other things, he identified himself as an Aleatoricist. It is a thriving form of art where chances and coincidences combined with an underlining ideology came forward to create something new.
We sat for a while looking at his sculptures. Most pieces had rusted in the exposure to changing weather and smelled like blood. One had a set of teeth which was as white as mine. One had a hard penis whereas another’s looked lifeless. Many looked like drunkards contemplating the self and life; thinking about God, telling us about the irony of it all. Some looked like the homeless who collected too many discarded clothes and wore them one above the other in nonchalance. It was ironical that so much life thrived in those still sculptures in front of us, yet it was just the two of us sitting and watching them. But then again, it isn’t really ironical. Because that was all that Tom Kus wanted – to be spotted by two people. And another two.
After a lot of walking, we walked towards a dead end. And in front of us was the shimmering Vltava. The waters confirmed my faith. That there was indeed something very concrete behind all these wanderings and chance happenings – faith.
I imagined Tom Kus walking into that space, to see what had happened to his sculptures. He would see what the sun and the rain had done to his sculptures. He would see only two people like us seated mouth agape looking at his creations. But he would leave with satisfaction. Because the sculptures, with every passing day would have only become more of what he had wanted them to become. And he would have the ultimate confirmation of faith – that the sun, rain and every other force of nature had worked along with him to make them be.
Location: Prague, Czech Republic