Award-Winning Czech Artist Collective Ztohoven Opens Hacker Space 'Paralelní Polis' in Prague

Award-winning Czech guerrilla artist collective Ztohoven, opens up the Paralelní Polis in Holešovice, a space serving as a hacker space, a hub, with a Bitcoin-only coffee shop.

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Award-Winning Czech Artist Collective Ztohoven Opens Hacker Space 'Paralelní Polis' in Prague

Award-winning Czech guerrilla artist collective Ztohoven, opens up the Paralelní Polis in Holešovice, a space serving as a hacker space, a hub, with a Bitcoin-only coffee shop.

Czech guerrilla art group Ztohoven, announced the foundation of an official institution, the Cryptoanarchy Institute, a non-profit organization aiming "to make available tools for unlimited dissemination of information on the Internet and encouraging a parallel decentralised economy, cryptocurrencies and other conditions for the development of a free society in the 21st century," reads the official announcement.

The organization is based in a freshly launched space, the Paralelní Polis, or the 'Parallel World', a former factory building located in Holešovice, a suburb in the north of Prague, which is now operating as a hacker space, a hub, and a Bitcoin-only coffee shop.

Paralelní Polis

Ztohoven spokesperson, passing under the pseudonym Petr Žílka, explained to Czech media outlet Czech.cz how the idea of the institute emerged:

"It has been about four years since we started to cooperate with the hackers. This cooperation seemed to be beneficial for both sides and we became really fascinated by all the possibilities the hackers brought to our group. They also became regular members. [...] For the last two or three years they have been pushing us to establish a new hacker space in Prague, which would focus on social and political issues. We were considering where and how, and then we found an absolutely amazing house and we started to consider establishing something more than a hacker space, a social institution. And finally, here it is, it is called Parallel Polis."

Žílka said the idea was to "create an absolutely independent space, dedicated to people who search another way to use and apply modern technologies," which he believes is a strong tool for social change. The organization promotes and provides resources to locals to "enjoy [their] virtual freedoms," and encourages the use of encryption and anonymization softwares such as Tor.

Further, Žílka said the ambitious of the institute for the Paralelní Polis was to build "a parallel structure that would allow people to step out from the system we are living in as much as possible." He explained:

"That’s why we also established a café, and a library and a co-working space where you can hire a table and can do your business. And there is also a 'maker space', which is an experimental space where you can experiment with different technologies, such as 3D printer or a laser cut. [...] The house is an example of how it could work. We have closed economies based on cryptocurrencies. We will not be accepting fiat money. This way we want to show that you can really start living like that and minimalize the influence of state and laws."

Calling itself an "embassy of crypto-anarchy," the Paralelní Polis offers services in exchange of bitcoins. However, Žílka noted the organization wouldn't exclude anyone, and its members would help and educate the ones who may be interested in learning more about the technology:

"We will provide service. We will show ways how to start. [...] So when you come, it doesn’t matter that you don’t have any bitcoins and no experience, we will show you everything."

On social media, community members welcomed and encouraged the initiative, qualifying the Bitcoin-only coffee shop as "an excellent way to get people to buy their first coins."

Overall, Paralelní Polis guests were happy with the services provided by the non-profit organization. "And that coffee was really amazing :-) Will spend a lot of time there," said /r/Bitcoin user reyeater. "They'll offer even some food since Monday," added sloch0.

Community members have asked whether Paralelní Polis' Bitcoin-only coffee shop will keep on operating, as the organization does not accept Republic Czech's national tender, the Czech koruna. Few suggested the presence of a Bitcoin ATM within their locals could be the answer to the issue. Further, as the Paralelní Polis is a non-profit organization, the structure isn't a business that holds the purpose of selling food and services to make profit, highlighted chairoverflow.

Ztohoven is an award-winning Czech guerilla artist collective, consisting as a core group of around 20 regularly active artists. The collective is best known for its artistically motivated pranks, notably a decade ago, when they transformed a neon heart on Prague castle into a question mark, as well as for their hacking into a live television broadcast with images of a hoax nuclear explosion.


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