Traffic Lights is the name of the best-known public intervention of Czech artist/provocateur Roman Týc, which achieved world celebrity status after it cost the author a thirty-day prison sentence. In Traffic Lights Týc decided to deal in a controversial manner with the banality of conventions that surround us everyday, by devising, producing and installing fifty street filters that turned the red and green silhouettes on Prague traffic lights from the standardised figures of people walking or standing into (for many) scandalous and vulgar scenes of suicides, drunks, disabled people. The delight of part of the public with the project was matched by the very predictable condemnation of officialdom, which prompted Týc’s adherents and enthusiasts to a number of tribute actions in which they redesigned the traffic lights throughout the Czech Republic. The media attention that was attracted by the arrest of the artist initiated numerous similar hacktivist street projects and thus redirected the attention of many to the issues of contemporary censorship mechanisms and to the political connotations of public artistic activity in general.
Roman Týc (CZ) Traffic Lights
Documentation of an intervention in public space, 2007
Roman Týc (CZ)
Roman Týc (1974) is the pseudonym and as it were alter ego of a well known Czech artist-saboteur, real name David Hons (1974), long-term member and joint founder of the guerrilla art group Ztohoven, founder of the VJ art collective PureA (2005) and one of the initiators of the alternative culture centre Trafačka. Týc works primarily in public space; his artistic interventions are always witty and full of play and fun, although without exception they work as a short and mercilessly mordant commentary on contemporary Czech reality as well as on the contemporary global social-cultural situation. Týc started as street artist, actually the graffiti artist Root, working within DJ (VJ) graffiti subculture. He started problematising public spaces with his interventions in 2002, when he devoted himself more vigorously the issues of the un/lawful activity of the individual in a legally defined – in fact legislatively inhibiting – socio-political and cultural system. Apart from works with Ztohoven, such as Question mark over Prague Castle (2003), Media Reality (2007) and Moral Reform (2012), Týc is best known individually for Traffic Lights (2007) and also deals, alongside interventions, with video works (I River, 2002;Ballet, 2003).