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Havel for President! The Year 1989 in Photography

National Gallery Prague – Trade Fair Palace (Národní galerie Praha – Veletržní palác), Dukelských hrdinů 47, Praha 7 - Holešovice, 170 00

  • Exhibition
  • photography
  • November '89

When?

  • Wed 13. 11. 2019 – Sun 16. 2. 2020

Czech documentary photography had a special position in the 1980s. In opposition to official art, which favoured decorativism and superficiality, photography had a reputation for truth and moral heroism. Documentary photographs offered a chance to retain the purity of one’s integrity in the gloomy political situation and find a place in the world.Defiance and non-conformism but also official disgrace were natural parts of such manifestations. In spite of that, many artists photographed symbols of the regime (Lubomír Kotek), shop windows testifying to the dismal economic and political situation (Iren Stehli) or they critically reflected the official holidays (Vladimír Birgus, Jaroslav Bárta, Dana Kyndrová), activities of the underground scene (Bohdan Holomíček, Tomki Němec), protests against the regime (Radovan Boček, Karel Cudlín, Jan Jindra, Jaroslav Kučera, Pavel Štecha, Jiří Všetečka etc.) or the social decay in the countryside (Jindřich Štreit).

The exhibition will commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution. From the distance of thirty years, it also seeks to critically assess the picture material acquired in 1989 and find the best shots recalling the contemporary events. An emphasis will be laid on major photographers and the presentation will be designed to show differences in their ways of seeing the world and presenting them.

The photographs documenting the anti-government protests will be accompanied by those that were also taken in 1989, but captured the day-to-day life or reflected social problems and political changes. The context of the institution where these works will be presented also offers a chance to put them in the framework with other artworks commenting on the political and social atmosphere at that time, which were done in 1989 (paintings, sculptures, installations, videos, recorded performances).

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Information source: Národní galerie Praha