David Němec

* 1961

  • “I kept buying Lidová demokracie, Rudé právo, Tvorba, Dikobraz. As it was published but we subscribed to dailies to. I had a system that I always browsed through it and cut things related to Charter 77 or friends. It was a targeted attack on Charter signatories, Hájek, Patočka, Havel and these attacks were rather primitive. Jan Patočka visited us from around 1976 because he wanted to get to know people around The Plastics and wanted to speak on their behalf. He used to come to us quite regularly and often until his death. In Tvorba I read, among other things, an article titled ‘Who is Jan Patočka?’, it was just disgusting, primitive. All the more that I knew him and it was a nice man of gentle manners.”

  • “And what do you think about the argument that people use that they were afraid of losing their jobs?” — “Well, they could lose their jobs, like many other people did. But they knew, really, or else they were blind. My father lost his job too. After twenty years when he had built something at the Speech-Language-Pathology Clinic he was sacked immediately. This was a risk. My schoolmates had parents who said something else at home and something else in public. I always think of Poles, my friends of KOR (Komitet Obrony Robotników). When I still had my passport and went to Poland, I always asked myself why we were not like them. They asked: what kind of people are you? The Poles did not go one against another. I was at a mass in Warsaw and there were the most famous actors reading. I asked how this was possible and they told me they had it like this. That no one would leak the information to authorities.”

  • “Actually I didn’t know many people who signed Anticharter. After years, in the late 1980s, around the year 1987, I became quite a friend with Jiří Křižan, who told me that by signing Anticharter something broke in him and it led him to A Few Sentences. He was very active in that and he engaged his colleagues from TV and celebrities. He told me that Anticharter had humiliated him and decided he would do everything he could against it. “But he was not the typical case, was he?” — “No, definitely not.” — “And what about the argument that signature under Anticharter was just formality? That it was just one of the pro-regime rituals? I would like to know whether it was nothing indeed or whether it could cause a problem or whether indeed it caused a problem?” — “I think it should have caused a problem with these people. Like it happened with Jiří Křižan. But mostly it just didn’t happen. In his case, it was like falling off a horse.” — “What problem should it have caused?” — “Well, it was just a metaphor. Like when St Paul falls off a horse and realizes something. That this is not the way. Sadly, it didn’t cause this problem with those people.”

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Praha Eye Direct, 20.06.2016

    duration: 32:16
  • 2

    V Praze, 13.01.2020

    duration: 01:03:31
    media recorded in project The Stories of Our Neigbours
Full recordings are available only for logged users.

Anti-charter was a challenge for artists to say No to the regime. None did it.

David Němec was born on May 29, 1961, in Prague as the fifth of seven children of psychologists Dana and Jiří Němec. His parents signed Charter 77 and lost their jobs. They were active in the dissent and their flat in Ječná street was permanently open to people from the underground and dissent for discussions, lectures and concerts. They co-founded the Committee for the Protection of Unjustly Persecuted (VONS). David Němec signed Charter 77 in 1979, after his parents were arrested and imprisoned and he turned eighteen. He was a member of the underground music group DG 307. He trained as a girdler, in 1982 passed the ‘maturity’ exam at evening school and sat at the entrance exams to the Academy of Arts in Prague, where he was not accepted. In 1983 to 1995 he worked as a boiler operator and since 1995 as a computer graphic artists. In 1997–1998 he co-created a program for dyslectic children and since 1998 he has worked as a graphic designer at Respekt weekly. Since mid 1970s to the end of the 1980s he had solo and group exhibitions, all private. His first exhibition open to general public was in 1989 in the Prague Junior club Na Chmelnici. Since 1989 he has exhibited both in the Czech Republic and abroad. He belongs among the artists of the so-called second generation of the Czech underground. He married The Plastic People of the Universe singer Michaela Pohanková. He lives in Prague, with five children.