Photographs by Miroslav Tichy.
Steidl/ICP, 2010. 328 pp., 364 illustrations, 8½x12¾".
Few stories in the history of photography are as astonishing and compelling as that of the octogenarian Czech
photographer Miroslav Tichý. With crude homemade cameras fashioned out of cardboard and duct tape, Tichý took
several thousand pictures of the women of his Moravian hometown of Kyjov throughout the 1960s and ’70s. These
pictures of women going about their daily business are at once banal and extraordinary, transforming the ordinary
moments of work and leisure into small epiphanies. Blurred and off-kilter, his photographs have a striking
contemporaneity, resembling the early paintings of Gerhard Richter or the photographs of Sigmar Polke. Printed
imperfectly and deliberately battered, they evince a surprisingly retrograde or even antimodernist feeling, which, in the
context of the Cold War atmosphere of provincial Czechoslovakia, just before and after the liberalizing moment of the
Prague Spring (1968), undoubtedly constituted a kind of oblique political provocation, a nose-thumbing response to
the progressive realist perfectionism of official Soviet culture.
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