The Lennon Wall or John Lennon Wall is a wall in Prague, Czech Republic. Since the 1980s, this once-typical wall has been filled with John Lennon–inspired graffiti, lyrics from Beatles' songs, and designs relating to local and global causes.
History and ongoing development
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 struggle—following the 1980 assassination of John Lennon when an unknown artist painted a single image of the singer-songwriter and some lyrics.
In 1988, the wall was a source of irritation for Gustáv Husák's communist regime. 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. Young Czechs wrote their grievances on the wall and, according to 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 participants variously as alcoholic, 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 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.
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 contacting them. The wall mural is still there as of 23 July 2017. And the “Wall is Over” bit has been changed to “War Is Over” from the song Happy Xmas (War Is Over).
On 22 April 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 Czech. Members of the public were encouraged to add their own messages during the process, resulting in calls for action painted in several languages. A giant image of a skull was also painted. The repaint was carried out in a manner which allowed some of the existing artwork to be included on the new wall.
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. 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.”
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 have regained 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. On 7 November 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 the Wall. New rules of the Wall no longer allow spraying, 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 monitor the wall to ensure the artistic portion is not defaced.
In July 2021, a new museum about the history of the Lennon Wall, the Lennon Wall Story, was set in Prokopska Street 8 in the cool underground. The Lennon Wall Story is a new museum that tracks the history and art of one of Prague’s major attractions. Located just a few hundred metres from the famous Lennon Wall itself, the museum seeks to entice visitors with dozens of photos, historic objects, Beatles memorabilia and a half hour documentary about the history of the wall, known for political and artistic expression.
Lennon Walls in Hong Kong
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. The wall was one of the major arts of the Umbrella Movement. Throughout 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.
Five years later, during the 2019–20 Hong Kong protests, the same wall was created again, with new post-it notes. Within days, dozens of post-it note Lennon Walls had “blossomed everywhere” (遍地開花) throughout Hong Kong, including on Hong Kong Island itself, Kowloon, the New Territories, and on the many outlying islands.[non-primary source needed] There are even some Lennon Walls located inside government offices, including RTHK and the Policy Innovation and Co-ordination Office. According to a crowd-sourced map of Hong Kong, there are over 150 Lennon Walls throughout the region.
On 21 September 2019, police in Hong Kong began tearing down Lennon Walls across the city to remove anti-government statements.
Hong Kong Umbrella Movement protests: The Lennon Wall at Central Government Offices, 21 October 2014.
The Lennon Wall returns amidst the anti-extradition bill protests, June 2019.
A message from Hong Kong citizens in 2019 on the John Lennon wall in Prague. It reads “~To the people of the Czech Republic 30 years ago you won the fight against the Communists. Now Hongkong is fighting against the Chinese tyranny[sic]. TP Please Support Hong Kong”
- John Lennon Park — Havana, Cuba
- Strawberry Fields — Memorial in Central Park NYC
- Tsoi Wall — a similar wall near Arbat Street in Moscow
- Lennon Walls of Hong Kong
- Extinction Rebellion
- List of famous walls
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- "Extinction Rebellion: Update #7 – To Parliament, and Beyond". Extinction Rebellion. 24 April 2019. Retrieved 11 July 2019.
- "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 17 June 2019.
- "Marco Leung Memorial Art @ Lennon Wall in Prague". Twitter CDN. Archived from the original on 12 July 2019. Retrieved 12 July 2019.
- Un, Phoenix. "Imagine that – 'support HK' messages on Prague wall". The Standard. Retrieved 18 July 2019.
- Tait, Robert (4 August 2019). "Imagine no graffiti: new regulation to fall on Prague's Lennon wall". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 4 August 2019.
- Bereň, Michael (4 October 2019). "Lennonova zeď dostane novou podobu. Vznikne tu venkovní galerie?". Pražský Deník.
- Johnston, Raymond (8 November 2019). "Prague's John Lennon Wall opens with new murals and new rules". Expats.cz Latest News & Articles – Prague and the Czech Republic. Retrieved 14 November 2019.
- "Prague's Lennon Wall gets its own museum". Radio Prague International. 5 August 2021. Retrieved 23 June 2022.
- Lau, Joyce (14 November 2014). "Art Spawned by Hong Kong Protest; Now to Make It Live On". The New York Times. Retrieved 9 July 2019.
- Law, Violet (14 December 2014). "Hong Kong protesters seek to archive their art, words for posterity". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 10 July 2019.
- Sun, Becky. "Umbrella Movement Visual Archive and Research Collective". Medium. Retrieved 9 July 2019.
- "The Umbrella Archives: Hong Kong artist collective fights to preserve protest art". Art Radar. Retrieved 9 July 2019.
- "UMAP Digital Archives". Umbrella Movement Art Preservation. Retrieved 9 July 2019.
- Yu, Verna (13 July 2019). "'Don't mess with us': the spirit of rebellion spreads in Hong Kong". The Guardian. Retrieved 14 July 2019.
- 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.
- "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.
- Lam, Jeffie; Lok-kei, Sum; Kang-chung, Ng; Cheung, Tony; Leung, Christy (10 July 2019). "'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.
- "Civil servants join the fray as crisis escalates". RTHK. 25 July 2019. Retrieved 25 July 2019.
- 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.
- "HK Lennon Wall Map (香港連儂牆地圖)". Google Maps. Retrieved 13 July 2019.
- Yu, Verna (21 September 2019). "Hong Kong riot police fire teargas at protesters as unrest continues". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 September 2019.
- "A world away from Hong Kong, a 'Lennon Wall' supporting pro-democracy demonstrators springs up in Toronto". MSN. Retrieved 13 July 2019.
- Seucharan, Cherise (13 July 2019). "'Lennon wall' on Vancouver steam clock a symbol of support for Hong Kong protesters". The Star. Retrieved 14 July 2019.
- "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.
- "Stand with Hong Kong in Berlin". Twitter CDN. Archived from the original on 15 July 2019. Retrieved 15 July 2019.
- Un, Phoenix. "Imagine that – 'support HK' messages on Prague wall". The Standard. Retrieved 18 July 2019.
- Tan, Lincoln (30 July 2019). "Hong Kong dispute over China's extradition bill gets physical on University of Auckland campus". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 30 July 2019.
- Digital Lennon Wall
- Google Maps location of John Lennon Wall
- Article about the Lennon Wall in the Erasmuspc World CityPoem collection
- Book of Lennon Wall