Prague TV Tower babies to be replaced with clones

Copies of David Černý’s iconic sculptures will be placed on the tower

Artist David Černý’s 10 baby sculptures were supposed to be renovated and put back on the Žižkov Television Tower in May, but that has been pushed back to the fall, and copies will be used instead. The exact date is not yet known.

The reason for the delay is that due to safety concerns, a new method of mounting them on the tower will be used, and in the end, it was easier to make copies of the Babies (Miminka) than to upgrade the originals.

The copies of the Babies will look exactly the same on the outside, while they will have newly designed infrastructure inside. The dark-colored figures seem to be crawling naked babies and have barcodes in place of faces.

The statues were removed in October 2017 for renovation, with the original intent that the originals would be refurbished and put back in place.

“Based on expert opinions, tower operator České Radiokomunikace in agreement with David Černý decided to change the method of anchoring the sculptures to the tower’s tubes. This is to guarantee significantly higher static and operational reliability of the sculptures, which corresponds to the current technical regulations. The new way of anchoring has prompted a change in the internal load-bearing steel structure, including a change in materials, so new Babies are being produced,” České Radiokomunikace’s Petra Mitnerová said.

The original sculptures this summer were displayed in Palm Springs, California, after they were renovated. What will happen now to the originals has not been disclosed.

The Babies, made of fiberglass, were originally meant as a temporary installation in 2001. They were not originally designed to withstand years of exposure to the elements.

The Babies proved popular and helped to make the TV tower a tourist attraction.

“In 2001, the babies were installed here by the artist David Černý. I think that the tower has changed quite a bit in the perception of the citizens,” Michal Zelenka, the current administrator of the tower, said in October 2017 when they originals were removed.

There are other copies of the baby sculptures in Prague. There are three bronze examples outside Museum Kampa, not far from the Charles Bridge. Those are also popular for tourists to photograph.

Artist David Černý shot to fame in 1991 by painting a Soviet tank pink. The tank is still displayed on occasion. Several other of his works are also visible in public, such as the rotating head of Kafka at the Quadrio shopping center, a statue of St Wenceslas riding an upside-down dead horse in Lucerna Passage, a statue of Sigmund Freud hanging by one hand in Old Town, an East German car with legs outside the German Embassy, and peeing statues outside the Kafka museum, among other works.

The Žižkov TV Tower is the tallest structure in Prague, at 216 meters tall. It was built between 1985 and 1992, and the public notion at the time it was finished was that it was an unwanted reminder of communism, which ended in 1989.

People thought that the main original purpose of the tower was to jam Western radio signals and spy on the local population, and not to provide better TV and radio signals.

People were also critical that a Jewish cemetery was largely destroyed to make way for the tower. The futuristic design was said to clash with the typical Prague architecture.

In 2009, the Australian website Virtualtourist.com named the tower the second ugliest building in the world.

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