Main exhibition

Nineties | Dana Kyndrová

13. 6. 2024 - 15. 9. 2024

The Nineties are the summarium of an ambitiously conceived program. Dana Kyndrová, from the start of her career, focused on the photographic recording and eventually publication of testimony on timeless social questions. They embody an authentic realism that represents a wide movement in Czech culture, originally arising in opposition to the realism known as socialist, or in other words the doctrine of official propaganda.

If humanistic photography should wish to capture and transmit knowledge of actual people, it needs to be open not only to its viewers, but equally to its subjects. As a responsible documentarist, Kyndrová understandably respects those who do not wish to be photographed. At the same time, she also finds it unacceptable to create scenes she staged herself and then present the images from the staging as documentation of spontaneous action. Instead, she prefers patience, making informal contact and allowing the photography to take place naturally. And if she has no desire to manipulate with the actors or the viewers, it should be no surprise that she herself intends to remain free of any illusions.

The fall of the Communist regime at the end of 1989 was an event that Kyndrová, as a photographer, had no intention of missing, yet she retained her individualistic standpoint of scepticism towards all mass phenomena. New speakers held forth from new platforms, yet the applauding hands were often the same ones that she saw waving in approval toward the previous regime. In one interview, Kyndrová recalled that over a decade after the revolution, she encountered still in state service – at Prague Castle no less – one secret police officer she had photographed during May Day in 1983, as a security guard for the officials’ stage as the disciplined socialist public stood watching.

And just as the persistence of this particular detail from a Communist-era May Day demands our attention, we can also find in Kyndrová’s photographic cycles further indications of how strongly there resounds, in many different settings, the deformation of Communist ideology and official socialism. Or in parallel, to follow the pendulum of events as they swing towards senseless excesses of bodily liberation, once relieved of totalitarian strictures.

The Nineties does not work to evoke nostalgic moods, but more to provoke thoughtful reflection. For if we are not all situated in agreement upon social matters, then we cannot perceive either the past, or the world itself …

Dana Kyndrová has a sharply outlined view of what she finds interesting, what she expects in a wide range of social circles, and where to go looking for it. She can cast her eye of the lives of her contemporaries, speak with them, and above all photograph them. It springs forth from observation, as well as from her critical evaluation, examining the connections and working towards deriving conclusions… In this way, it seems that she proceeds from subject to subject, in each instance tracking down their characteristics and grasping the respective essences. For this reason as well, The Nineties retains the traditional division into chapters. Yet all the same, the wide range of subject matter, like all parts of the oeuvre, is linked through the author’s own motivations.

Dana Kyndrová is intent on nothing less than human fate. It is a subject that she found quickly in her youth and to which she remains faithful = for well over half a century. This longstanding heritage represents, for her, a challenge that does not let up and cannot be overlooked. Humanity may well intrigue her in the word’s most general sense, yet the medium of photography allows the transmission of, at best, only what people do, what they pay attention to, and how in each case their surroundings look…

Inner life is not to be seen.

Yet all the same, Kyndrová points equally to what remains, by principle, outside the image. However much she gazes at the exterior manifestations, she is not limited to the shaping of individual moments. What makes this possible is the balance between the choice of the shots and the sense for their thematic inclusion into a planned cycle. The author grants her publications the form of a story, a visual literature, as she says – though understood of course as a factual one. In The Nineties, this one-time point of view intersects with the standpoint of mature experience. With the passage of time, the original perspective increases in its drama, offering the transformation of immediate insights into a likeness.

The ninth book by Dana Kyndrová is therefore an expression of her mission, and hence of her personal fate. After all, photography shows not only what it set out for itself; it also points directly toward it.

Josef Moucha, curator

Dear visitors,
please be advised that the photographs in the „Erotic Show“ series (located in the last room) contain sexually explicit imagery. Please take this into consideration when deciding to view these works.

Thank you


Photos from the vernissage

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