Open main menu
The John Lennon Wall in the summer of 2014, shortly before it was painted over in November 2014
Lennon Wall in August 1981
Portion of the wall. 1993

The Lennon Wall or John Lennon Wall is a wall in Prague, Czech Republic. Once a normal wall, since the 1980s it has been filled with John Lennon-inspired graffiti, pieces of lyrics from Beatles' songs, and other designs relating to local and global causes.

History and ongoing developmentEdit

Located in a small and secluded square across from the French Embassy, the wall had been decorated by love poems and short messages against the regime since 1960s. It received its first decoration connected to John Lennon, a symbol of freedom, western culture and political fight, following the 1980 assassination of John Lennon when an unknown artist painted a single image of the singer-songwriter and some lyrics.[1]

In 1988, the wall was a source of irritation for the communist regime of Gustáv Husák. Following a short-lived era of democratization and political liberalization known as the Prague Spring, the newly installed communist government dismantled the reforms, inspiring anger and resistance to the loss of freedoms. Young Czechs wrote grievances on the wall and in a report of the time this led to a clash between hundreds of students and security police on the nearby Charles Bridge. The liberalization movement these students followed was described as "Lennonism" (not to be confused with "Leninism") and Czech authorities described these people variously as alcoholics, mentally deranged, sociopathic, and agents of Western free market capitalism.

The wall continuously undergoes change and the original portrait of Lennon is long lost under layers of new paint. Even when the wall was repainted by some authorities, by the next day it was again full of poems and flowers. Today, the wall represents a symbol of global ideals such as love and peace.

The wall is owned by the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, which allowed the graffiti to continue on the wall, and is located at Velkopřevorské náměstí (Grand Priory Square), Malá Strana.[2]

On 17 November 2014, the 25th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution, the wall was painted over in pure white by a group of art students, leaving only the text "wall is over" [sic]. The Knights of Malta initially filed a criminal complaint for vandalism against the students, which they later retracted after gaining contact with them.[3] The wall mural is still there as of July 23, 2017. And the "Wall is Over" bit has been changed to "War Is Over", a song.

On April 22, 2019 – Earth Day – the action group Extinction Rebellion repainted the entire wall with slogans demanding action from the Czech government on Climate Change. "KLIMATICKÁ NOUZE" was painted in large block print letters, which reads "climate emergency" in the Czech language. Passing members of the public were encouraged to add their own message during the process, resulting in calls for action painted in several languages. A giant image of a skull was also painted on the wall. The repaint was carried out in a manner which allowed some of the existing artwork to be included in the new look wall.[4]

On August 4, 2019 it is reported that the wall will be put under CCTV surveillance to block "unlawful graffiti" and combat the swaths of tourists that pass by it every day. [5]

In July 2019, artists painted a memorial on the wall for Hong Kong democracy activist Marco Leung Ling-kit, who became known as a martyr and a symbol of hope for the 2019 anti-extradition bill protest movement.[6] The image on the wall depicts the yellow raincoat he was wearing during the banner drop that eventually led to a fall from the building, along with some words of solidarity: "Hong Kong, Add oil."[7][8]

In October 2019, the Sovereign Military Order of Malta together with Prague 1 started the reconstruction of the Lennon Wall which lasted until November. They reacted thus to the recent situation of vandalism on the Wall and its surroundings connected to the overtourism which became unbearable this summer. The place should regain its respectable form which was going to be introduced on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution in November as an open-air gallery with new rules. [9] On November 7, 2019, the new face of the Lennon Wall as an open-air gallery was created and introduced to the public. Over 30 Czech and foreign professional artists gathered by the Czech designer Pavel Šťastný painted on the Wall. New rules of the Wall makes spraying no longer allowed, people can leave their messages connected to freedom and love only in the white free zones andy in more sensitive materials than sprays, e.g. pencil, marker or chalk. Cameras and police will monitor the wall to ensure the artistic portion is not defaced.[10]

The Lennon Wall, May 2015
The Lennon Wall, November 2018

Lennon Walls in Hong KongEdit

 
Hong Kong Umbrella Movement protests; Lennon Wall @ Central Government Offices 21 October 2014
 
After China-Extradition bill protests, the Lennon Wall returns. June 2019

During the 2014 democracy protests in Hong Kong, a similar Lennon Wall appeared along the staircase outside of the Hong Kong Central Government Offices. Inspired by the original in Prague, many thousands of people posted colourful post-it notes expressing democratic wishes for Hong Kong.[11] The wall was one of the major arts of the Umbrella Movement.[12] Throughout the several months of occupations and protest, many efforts were made by different groups to ensure physical and digital preservation of the Hong Kong Lennon Wall.[13][14][15]

Five years later, during the 2019 Hong Kong anti-extradition bill protests, the same wall was again created, with new post-it notes. Within days, dozens of post-it-note Lennon Walls had "blossomed everywhere" (遍地開花)[16] throughout Hong Kong, including on Hong Kong Island itself, Kowloon, the New Territories, and on the many outlying islands.[17][18][19] There are even some Lennon Walls located inside government offices, including RTHK[20] and the Policy Innovation and Co-ordination Office.[21] According to a crowd-sourced map of Hong Kong, there are over 150 Lennon Walls throughout the region.[22]

On September 21, 2019, police in Hong Kong began tearing down Lennon Walls across the city to remove anti-government statements.[23]

Lennon Walls have also appeared outside of Hong Kong in the cities of: Toronto, Vancouver BC, Seoul, Tokyo, Berlin, London, Sydney, Manchester, Melbourne, Taipei, and Auckland.[24][25][26][27][28][29]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Prague's Famous John Lennon Wall: Is It Over, or Reborn?". Smithsonian.com. Retrieved 2018-10-03.
  2. ^ "John Lennon Wall". lonelyplanet.com. Retrieved 2018-10-03.
  3. ^ "Wall Is Over! Lennonovu zeď v Praze přetřeli na bílo" [Wall is Over! Lennon Wall in Prague painted over in white]. Česká televize (in Czech). Retrieved 18 November 2014.
  4. ^ "Extinction Rebellion: Update #7 – To Parliament, and Beyond". Extinction Rebellion. Retrieved 11 July 2019.
  5. ^ Tait, Robert (2019-08-04). "Imagine no graffiti: new regulation to fall on Prague's Lennon wall". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2019-08-04.
  6. ^ "A Hong Kong Extradition Protester Who Fell to His Death Is Being Hailed as a 'Martyr'". Time. 15 June 2019. ISSN 0040-781X. OCLC 1311479. Archived from the original on 2019-06-17.
  7. ^ "Marco Leung Memorial Art @ Lennon Wall in Prague". Twitter CDN. Archived from the original on 12 July 2019. Retrieved 12 July 2019.
  8. ^ Un, Phoenix. "Imagine that – 'support HK' messages on Prague wall". The Standard. Retrieved 18 July 2019.
  9. ^ https://prazsky.denik.cz/zpravy_region/lennonova-zed-nova-podoba-venkovni-galerie-listopadu-vyroci-revoluce20191004.html
  10. ^ Johnston, Raymond (2019-11-08). "Prague's John Lennon Wall opens with new murals and new rules". Expats.cz Latest News & Articles - Prague and the Czech Republic. Retrieved 2019-11-14.
  11. ^ Lau, Joyce. "Art Spawned by Hong Kong Protest; Now to Make It Live On". The New York Times. Retrieved 9 July 2019.
  12. ^ Law, Violet. "Hong Kong protesters seek to archive their art, words for posterity". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 10 July 2019.
  13. ^ Sun, Becky. "Umbrella Movement Visual Archive and Research Collective". Medium. Retrieved 9 July 2019.
  14. ^ "The Umbrella Archives: Hong Kong artist collective fights to preserve protest art". Art Radar. Retrieved 9 July 2019.
  15. ^ "UMAP Digital Archives". Umbrella Movement Art Preservation. Retrieved 9 July 2019.
  16. ^ Yu, Verna. "'Don't mess with us': the spirit of rebellion spreads in Hong Kong". The Guardian. Retrieved 14 July 2019.
  17. ^ Cheng, Kris; Chan, Holmes. "In Pictures: 'Lennon Wall' message boards appear across Hong Kong districts in support of anti-extradition bill protesters". HKFP. Hong Kong Free Press. Retrieved 9 July 2019.
  18. ^ "Lennon Walls of Hong Kong: Lennon Walls started to spread all over Hong Kong during the 2019 Anti-ELAB Movement". Twitter. Archived from the original on 10 July 2019. Retrieved 10 July 2019.
  19. ^ Lam, Jeffie; Lok-kei, Sum; Kang-chung, Ng; Cheung, Tony; Leung, Christy. "'Lennon Walls' spring up across Hong Kong as more than 200 police in Tai Po remove messages featuring officers' personal information". South China Morning Post. Retrieved 10 July 2019.
  20. ^ "Civil servants join the fray as crisis escalates". RTHK. 25 July 2019. Retrieved 25 July 2019.
  21. ^ Cheng, Kris (25 July 2019). "In Pictures: 100s of Hong Kong civil servants criticise gov't handling of protests and Yuen Long mob attacks". Hong Kong Free Press. Retrieved 25 July 2019.
  22. ^ "HK Lennon Wall Map (香港連儂牆地圖)". Google Maps. Retrieved 13 July 2019.
  23. ^ Yu, Verna (21 September 2019). "Hong Kong riot police fire teargas at protesters as unrest continues". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 September 2019.
  24. ^ "A world away from Hong Kong, a 'Lennon Wall' supporting pro-democracy demonstrators springs up in Toronto". MSN. CBC / Radio Canada. Retrieved 13 July 2019.
  25. ^ Seucharan, Cherise. "'Lennon wall' on Vancouver steam clock a symbol of support for Hong Kong protesters". The Star. Retrieved 14 July 2019.
  26. ^ "Tokyo Shibuya Lennon Wall (東京渋谷現「連儂牆」紙牌、人身代牆避免打擾日本人)". The Stand News. Retrieved 14 July 2019.
  27. ^ "Stand with Hong Kong in Berlin". Twitter CDN. Archived from the original on 15 July 2019. Retrieved 15 July 2019.
  28. ^ Un, Phoenix. "Imagine that - 'support HK' messages on Prague wall". The Standard. Retrieved 18 July 2019.
  29. ^ Tan, Lincoln (30 July 2019). "Hong Kong dispute over China's extradition bill gets physical on University of Auckland campus". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 30 July 2019.

External linksEdit