Village People: Jindřich Štreit's Photographs of the Czechoslovak Countryside
Jindřich Štreit has long been one of the most important figures in Czech photography. Though he has made many visually powerful series with photographs from various parts of the world, his fundamental works remain the unique set of photographs of the Czechoslovak countryside in the 1970s and 1980s, in the years of the re-established Communist régime.
No other Czech photographer has developed the rural theme so multifacetedly, broadly, and authentically. Even amongst the most ravaged of environments and their inhabitants, Štreit has often been able to discover something beautiful, even if only the desire for beauty and joy, friendship and love, timeless values. His un-lyricized and unsentimental picture of life in villages of the poor area of Bruntál contrasted sharply with images presented in the state-run mass media at the time. In 1982 the school in Sovinec, where Štreit lived with his family, was searched by the secret police. His negatives, camera, and darkroom were seized, and Štreit was arrested in front of his wife and daughter. He was held in Prague’s Ruzyně Prison for four months and was regularly interrogated. A district court in Prague then sentenced him to 10 months’ imprisonment for ‘Defamation of the Republic and the President,’ for which he was given a suspended sentence of two years. Despite his bans and being under secret police surveillance, he continued to take photographs.
Published by Buchkunst Berlin, Village People contains a large set of his famous pictures from this period, but as well unpublished works that easily stand in comparison with those that have already become photographic icons. It is also available via Photobookstore.