Prague, Park of Culture and Relaxation of Julius Fucik, 18th of September 1983.© Josef Chuchma Military oath in the capital's centre; Prague, 1981–1983.© Josef Chuchma Prague, Park of Culture and Relaxation of Julius Fucik, beginning of 80s. © Josef Chuchma At the Youth Concert; Pezinok, Slovakia, 9th of July 1977. © Josef Chuchma

Josef Chuchma selected the photographs for the Leica Gallery Prague exhibitions from hundreds of images taken from 1975 to the second half of the eighties. Their genre could be described as a humanistic document which is interlinked with the classical black and white photography technique. 

The author presents two theme lines. First is a more cohesive selection from photographs of military oaths in Prague and religious pilgrimages in the Polish Censtochova. The other, more voluminous, theme line is based on individually standing photographs as some of the images – for example, the shots from summer dance floors– come from a thematically diverse collection. The emphasis placed on the particular installation of solitaire and multi-shot works lets the photographs be considered in a broader social and thematic context. The exhibition is a reminder of the times beginning with the occupation of Czechoslovakia by the Soviet armies and ending with political stagnation. The images tell a story of a neglected environment, monotonicity of clothing and shapes. The hopeless attitude spread throughout society speak to us in the form of echoes – echoes of the images of desperate dispersion of crowds or desperation spied out in the faces of individuals. The regime managed to influence the existential situation of its citizens to the extent that was unknown to the people themselves.

The oldest image comes from a visit of Josef Sudek – it belongs to a collection of portraits of initiation personalities. By the way, the shot also documents that at not even sixteen years old the once-to-be star Chuchma already had an understanding of the possibilities of the photography medium. Finding his own voice early on was aided by his friend’s father-photographer, whose book collection was Chuchma bringing in for an master’s autograph.  

It’s worth to note that the majority of the images are shown to the public for the first time. Author’s previous exhibitions were focused exclusively on the portraiture of writers. Since graduating at the Faculty of Journalism of Charles University in 1984, Chuchma profiled himself as a publicist, critic and an editor of multiple cultural sections as well as of multiple publications. His early portraits retain a youthful freshness of an inquisitive and curious outlook. Realistically captured motives give us the opportunity to reflect back on the time that was diametrically different both socio-politically as well as visually and photographically.

Josef Chuchma | Cut-Outs (of Normalization)

13/09/2019 - 03/11/2019
Gallery Prague