Before he ever picked up a camera, the internationally renowned Czech photographer Antonín Kratochvíl led a colourful life to say the least. After escaping from Czechoslovakia in 1967, he spent time in an Austrian refugee camp, was imprisoned in Sweden and joined the French Foreign Legion, with whom he fought in a war before later deserting. In the second part of an interview conducted at his long-term home in New York, Antonín Kratochvíl discusses, among other things, how his own experiences have shaped his approach to photography.
Prague is the city of hundred spires and countless historic sights, but what does it look like when you close your eyes? A new project called Favourite Sounds of Prague attempts to draw attention to the “soundscape” of the Czech capital, exploring how local people perceive the sounds that surround them. One of the fruits of the project will be an archive of sounds, something like an acoustic portrait of the city. The man behind the idea is British artist Peter Cusack, who has carried out similar projects in several cities across the world. The
Last week saw the premiere of ‘Máj’ (or ‘May’), a film version of an iconic romantic poem written by one of the greatest Czech poets, Karel Hynek Mácha. The film director, František A. Brabec, already has experience of adapting poetry to screen: his previous film ‘Kytice’ was an adaptation of another 19th century literary classic, an anthology of ballads by Karel Jaromír Erben. So, how did the filmmaker succeed in transforming a lyrical epic of love and death into a movie? Ruth Fraňková has more.
My guest today on One on One is Vit Havránek, head of the Tranzit Display gallery in Prague. Vit opened up this space for contemporary art last November, after working for many years at the National Gallery in Prague. He publishes and edits books of young Czech artists’ work, and has been charged with amassing one of the biggest collections of Central European art today by the Austrian bank Erste. I met him in the café of his new gallery to ask him a bit about the way he used the space:
Do you want to learn something about Czech history but have only an hour to spare? Well, it’s not impossible. A group of young actors from Prague have put together a theatrical show called History of Czechs in 68 Minutes. They have been staging the play at the Disk theatre, right in the city centre, luring the viewers among the crowds of tourists heading towards the Charles Bridge.
There was a Scotswoman, an Irish dance school, and a lot of Czechs… Not heard that one before? Well, for the past eight years, Prague has played host to a summer school of Irish dance and traditional music. This year, the course is bigger than ever, attracting over 200 participants from Europe and America. The programme has proved a hit with the scores of Czechs to have taken part. On Tuesday, I paid it a visit.
It was 40 years ago this Thursday that Warsaw-Pact troops invaded the former Czechoslovakia, putting an end to the hope and reform of the so-called ‘Prague Spring’. All this week, Radio Prague will be commemorating the invasion by broadcasting the testimonies of those who were there. For today’s programme, Rosie Johnston spoke to Libor Hajský, a junior photographer at the Czech Press Agency on August 21, 1968 – the day that Soviet tanks rolled into Prague.
Several of Josef Koudelka’s 1968 photos are being shown at the Mánes gallery, by the River Vltava, in a new exhibition entitled 1945 – Liberation, 1968 – Occupation. Two rooms of iconic black and white photographs show two very different sets of images: the Red Army greeted with smiles and flowers in May 1945, and Russian soldiers berated by angry crowds in August 1968. So how do the people looking at these images feel about today's Russia, especially in the light of the current situation in Georgia?