Wed, Jul 25, 2012 - Page 19 News List

LONDON 2012 OLYMPICS: Old bus reborn as push-up robot

WORKING HARD:Czech artist David Cerny bought the 1957 bus from a Dutch collector, fitted it with arms and an electric engine, then put the robot to work

Reuters, PRAGUE

Workers check the hydraulic arms of a London bus that is being transformed into a robotic sculpture that does push-ups by Czech artist David Cerny in Prague on July 2.

Photo: Reuters

A Czech artist has remodeled a traditional London double-decker bus into a mechanical sculpture of an athlete doing push-ups to celebrate the Olympic Games opening in the British capital on Friday.

David Cerny, whose past works have enraged European politicians and sought to poke fun at rival artists, has installed the bus outside the Czech Olympic House in London’s Islington neighborhood.

Cerny bought the 1957 bus from an owner in the Netherlands, attached two huge arms, an electrical engine and a lot of wiring and suspension tools to make it into a piece of art named London Boosted.

The mechanisms inside make the 6-tonne bus move up and down on bright red arms, raising the chassis into various angles, accompanied by recordings of a groaning voice and video projections in the windows.

“There is one common exercise for every sportsman in the world, and that is push-ups,” Cerny said. “It is training for sport activities, but at the same time it is also punishment in armies and prisons. So the push-ups are a very universal physical activity ... It is in a way very ironic.”

In 2009, Cerny revealed a huge puzzle-like object, called Entropa, in an EU building in Brussels that pictured European countries in unflattering ways, making a dramatic start to the Czech Republic’s EU presidency.

Bulgaria protested for being shown as a squat toilet, Germany was a Swastika-like web of highways, including moving cars, France was covered by an “On Strike” banner and Britain was missing altogether.

In the Czech Republic, he once painted pink a Soviet tank, which was serving as a monument of the 1945 liberation of Prague. His Shark was a statue of former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein floating in formaldehyde. It was meant to poke fun at British artist Damien Hirst’s embalmed shark, and was banned from exhibitions in Belgium and Poland.

Cerny once also put up large replicas of guns and posters in London back in the 1990s, calling on people to observe a “Day of Killing” to control population growth, as part of an art fair.

In that context, the London bus seems uncontroversial.

“We will see how long the athlete can work out for,” Cerny said. “Let’s hope he will exercise for the full three weeks. He will be the biggest sportsman there.”

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