Since more than twenty five years, AD-Net company has been occupying the public space of Prague with the 'benches for free' provided to the City. The economical model of these advertising 'benches for free' permits to make profit out of the basic public service of sitting: each back of the bench features a 62 × 166 cm advertising billboard.
AD-Net benches are an archetypal example of brutal capitalism dynamics in post-soviet countries. The opening of the global market left institutions helpless while private investors were able to shape the public space following their will without any type of regulation.
This agenda is disguised as a public-private partnership, when in fact the private sector has always more to gain from it than the public one. It normalizes profit-driven development over common good and makes public power dependent on this toxic logic.
All over Europe, the governants start slowly to consider the need for a healthy ecosystem to make cities sustainable. Part of this process is to encourage pedestrian appropriation of urban space and thus to get rid of visual pollution.
The Prague Municipality managed to terminate an unfavourable contract a few years ago. An external company was hired out of public money to gradually remove the benches after the ban AD-Net company.
As a result, today more than 1,500 pieces of unused benches are placed on the outskirts of the city. Their fate can be decided by an insolvency administrator—BERGER insolvency administrator and spol.
On Monday, September 12, 2022, we conducted our first liberation operation. We acquired one of the advertising benches.
We separated the ad space and the bench, turned it into a free speech space and added a proper wooden back on the bench.
We installed the liberated bench and billboard “freedom of expression” at the entrance to the public accessible Žižkov park in Krejcárek.
We expressed our right to the city by fulfilling the need for seats and freedom of speech that are lacking in Prague.
On Friday 11th November 2022, we performed a second action of liberation.
The liberated bench and free speech billboard are currently located in the Červená skála Park in Žižkov.
Reclaim this symbol of the oppression of public service by brutal capitalism and transform it into a tool of civil society. Download the attached letter, send it on behalf of your non-profit organization to the insolvency administrator and buy your own bench. FREE THE BENCHES!
The project was supported by:
Czech version