Sunday, May 1, 2011

A NOMAD AT HEART




Josef Koudelka
From amilcarmoretti.files.wordpress.com


Josef Koudelka
From fotografeumaideia.com.br


Josef Koudelka was born in 1938 in Boskovice, Czechoslovakia. Josef worked as an aeronautical engineer in Prague and Bratislava, but began to take photographic commisions from theatre magazines and regularly photographed stage productions at Prague’s Theatre behind the Gate on an old Rollieflex camera. In 1967 he gave up engineering altogether to pursue his career in photography.
(pianonecktie.wordpress.com)


Gypsies
From correodelasculturas.wordpress.com


Gypsies
From evolife.cn


Gypsies
From evolife.cn


Gypsies
From pianonecktie.wordpress.com


Gypsies
From pianonecktie.wordpress.com


Gypsies
From pianonecktie.wordpress.com


Gypsies
From pianonecktie.wordpress.com


It was the music, plaintive and dark, that in 1962 led Josef Koudelka to begin photographing the Gypsies of his native Czechoslovakia. "I was playing Gypsy music myself," he explained. Then a 24-year-old aeronautical engineer in Prague, Mr. Koudelka eventually became a photojournalist in exile, famous for enigmatic and evocative images of cultures on the margins of industrial society. "I just began to photograph them. And once I started I couldn't stop."
It is the Gypsy pictures that most clearly define Mr. Koudelka's darkly romantic view of the world. Replete with narrative suggestions, they belong to the rich photographic tradition pioneered by Andre Kertesz, Henri Cartier-Bresson and Robert Frank.
(PHOTOGRAPHY VIEW; Josef Koudelka's Melancholy Visions Of Gypsy Life, By Charles Hagen, May 09, 1993, The New York Times at nytimes.com)
Josef returned from his project shooting gypsies in Romania just two days before the Soviet invasion in August 1968. He witnessed and recorded the military forces of the Warsaw Pact as they invaded Prague and crushed the Czech reforms. Koudelka’s negatives were smuggled out of Prague into the hands of the Magnum agency, and published anonymously in The Sunday Times Magazine under the initials P. P. (Prague Photographer) for fear of reprisal to him and his family.
(pianonecktie.wordpress.com)


T-62 in Prague
From bfox.wordpress.com


T-62 in Prague
From artknowledgenews.com


Koudelka's photographs of the invasion were miraculously smuggled out of the country. A year after they reached New York, Magnum Photos distributed the images, but credited them to an unknown Czech photographer to avoid reprisals. The intensity and significance of the images earned the still-anonymous photographer the Robert Capa Award. Sixteen years passed before Koudelka could safely acknowledge authorship.
(artknowledgenews.com)


Prague
From art.1stdibs.com


T-62 in Prague
From evolife.cn


Mr. Koudelka called the 1968 invasion "a tragedy," but said that he was glad to have witnessed the extraordinary response.
Everything "changed at once, overnight," Mr. Koudelka said, according to the Czech news Web site Aktuálně. "People began to behave to one another decently. Thieves declared that they would stop stealing since the police had more important things to do. Everything unbelievable was possible."
At the time of the invasion, Mr. Koudelka was only 30. He had recently quit his job as an engineer to devote himself to photography, and had so far photographed primarily theater troupes and gypsies.
Mr. Koudelka says that only after the crisis ended — on August 27, after the signing of the "Moscow Protocol," in which Alexander Dubček and the other Czech leaders agreed to reinstate censorship and suppress reformist groups — did he develop the photographs he had taken during the week of the invasion. He left some of them with the photography historian Anna Fárová. She showed them to several people, including the curator of photography at the Smithsonian Institution, Eugene Ostroff, who brought the pictures back to America and showed them to the then president of Magnum Photos, Elliott Erwitt.
(Everything Unbelievable Was Possible: Koudelka's Prague, 1968, By KATE TAYLOR, NEW YORK The Sun at nysun.com)

Josef Koudelka
From en.wikipedia.org
With Magnum to recommend him to the British authorities, he applied for a three-month working visa and fled to England in 1970, where he applied for political asylum and in 1971 joined Magnum Photos and stayed for more than a decade. A nomad at heart, he continued to wander around Europe with his camera and little else.
Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Koudelka sustained his work through numerous grants and awards, and continued to exhibit and publish major projects like Gypsies (1975, his first book) and Exiles (1988, his second). Since 1986, he has worked with a panoramic camera and issued a compilation of these photographs in his book Chaos in 1999. Koudelka has had more than a dozen books of his work published, including in 2006 the retrospective volume Koudelka.
(artknowledgenews.com)
He returned from exile when Czechoslovakia became fully independent in 1989, but he doesn’t call any place home. “Home is inside myself,” he says. “For 15 years of exile I never had my own place or slept in hotels.” He would sleep in fields with the gypsies he loved to photograph, or wherever someone would take him in. He was invited to join the Magnum “family” in 1971, and would often sleep in the Magnum office in London, using it as his business address. Now he has a place in Prague and one in Paris; not homes as such, he explains, more work stations; darkrooms with wide benches and a bed in case he’s tired. Koudelka says travel gives him a fresh view of the world and the people he photographs. “The greatest cadeau, the best present exile gave me, was that I came back to my country after 20 years and saw it as I never had before. I realised I had lived there but never really looked at these streets. If I stay in one place, I become blind.”
Now 74, Koudelka rarely gives interviews; he is seldom in one place for long enough. Years in exile have made him a hardened traveller. His main focus is always his work: “I don’t do workshops, I don’t like interviews. I don’t like repeating myself and I don’t like to preach. My time is limited and I try to use it as best I can. The most important thing is to keep doing what you love, and I love photography,” he says.
(1968: Josef Koudelka and 1968, summer of hate, The Sunday Times, May 11, 2008 at timesonline.co.uk)


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