Opening Reception: Tuesday, August 21, 2-5pm

 

In 1960s Czechoslovakia was going through a rapid transformation. The initial phase of primitive, brutal communism was over and people welcomed even the smallest signs of democracy. Jazz or rock was no longer the forbidden western music, abstract art was suddenly okay and Czech New Wave cinema was booming. This was our “Prague Spring” and I was 17 years old…

 

It all ended in the early hours of August 21st, 1968. We were awakened by the noise of incoming helicopters and low-flying heavy transport planes. That night Czechoslovakia was invaded by the Soviet Union and other Warsaw Pact countries.

 

The weeks, months and years that followed were gloomy. After the initial resistance was defeated, artists were expected to produce cliché images and stories celebrating “the Marxist paradise”. Nevertheless only few were willing to prostitute themselves. Others were quickly blacklisted. Many became window washers or boiler room technicians. Some, under assumed names, were limping forward at a snail pace. I too have experienced some periods of “low-employment” (unemployment was illegal). Consequently I spent many days wandering through Prague with my camera in hand.

 

I was not a journalist and didn’t feel the need to interview people to learn about their state of mind. I was interested in capturing images that spoke volumes through their own mood. The mood of the nation was as gray as my photographs. Perhaps intuitively I knew that my days in this city were already numbered…

of 18