BUENOS AIRES.- Fundacion OSDE
opened the exhibition, Invasion 68 Prague. The show is comprised of images personally selected by Josef Koudelka from his extensive archive, and is co-produced with Magnum Photos. Conceived as an installation it features large-scale, ink-jet prints as well as related texts.
In 1968 Josef Koudelka was thirty years old. He had committed himself to photography as a full-time career only recently, and had been chronicling the theater and the lives of gypsies, but he had never photographed a news event. That all changed on the night of August 21, when Warsaw Pact tanks invaded the city of Prague, ending the short-lived political freedom in Czechoslovakia that came to be known as the Prague Spring. In the midst of the turmoil of the Soviet-led invasion, Koudelka took to the streets to document this critical moment. It was a major turning point in his life.
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.
Josef Koudelka was born in 1938 in Boskovice, Moravia, town of about 10,000 inhabitants. He began photographing his family and the surroundings with a 6 x 6 Bakelite camera. In 1961, he earned a degree from the University of Technology in Prague (CVUT), staging his first photographic exhibition the same year. Later he worked as an aeronautical engineer in Prague and Bratislava.
He began taking commissions from theatre magazines, and regularly photographed stage productions at Prague's Theatre Behind the Gate on an old Rolleiflex camera. In 1967, Koudelka decided to give up his career in engineering for full-time work as a photographer.
He had returned from a 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.
His pictures of the events became dramatic international symbols. In 1969 the "anonymous Czech photographer" was awarded the Overseas Press Club's Robert Capa Gold Medal for photographs requiring exceptional courage.
with information from wikipedia.org