PHOTOGRAPHS

Roma Photographs

The examples of Roma photographs displayed in the exhibition included:

Featured Artist - Photographer: Jindřich Štreit
Jindřich Štreit is a Czech-Moravian photographer, who was sentenced to imprisonment during the Communist dictatorship for his politically incorrect art and for making Roma photographs. He is well known in France, Japan and England for his Roma photographs from the Czech-Moravian village of Sovinec where he lives with his wife. The University of Florida obtained a copyright permission to display additional 103 photographs – a collection called “Romanies without Romance.”

Photographer and author: Jan Yoors
Ms. Aissing also received permission to exhibit photographs by Belgian-American artist Jan Yoors. Jan Yoors ran off with a Roma tribe and lived with the “kumpania” on and off for ten years. His memoir of this period, “The Gypsies” was published in 1965 and remains a seminal work on the subject. During World War II, Yoors worked with the Allies to help the Romanies who were being systematically exterminated. He was captured twice and imprisoned until the end of the war. These experiences were recorded in his book, “Crossings” published in 1971. His son, Kore Joors, worked with Ms. Aissing on acquiring his father’s publications as well as photographs from Mr. Yoors’ travels from the 1930s to the1970s.

Photographer and art historian: Eva Davidova
Another artist that Ms. Aissing include in the exhibition was Eva Davidova, ethnographer, sociologist, art historian and one of the founders of Roma studies in the Czech Republic as well as co-founder of the Museum of Romani Culture in Brno.


Features Photographer - Doc. Mgr. Jindřich Štreit

Jindrich Streit
EDUCATION
1960–1963 Grammar school, Rýmařov
1963–1967 Faculty of Education at Palacký University, Olomouc, specialization in primary education and visual arts for lower secondary schools
1974–1977 School of Art Photography of the Union of Czech Photographers, Prague
2000 Higher doctorate, appointed senior lecturer in the Department of Photography at the Film and Television Faculty of the Academy of Music and Drama, Prague

EMPLOYMENT RECORD
1967–1976 headmaster, elementary school, Sovinec
1976–1982 headmaster, elementary school, Jiříkov
1982–1983 librarian, Regional pedagogic centre, Bruntál
1983–1990 controller, State farm, Rýžoviště
1991–1994 coordinator of cultural activities, Regional office and museum, Bruntál
1990–2003 external teacher in the Department of Photography at the Film and Television Faculty of the Academy of Music and Drama, Prague
1991–1993 external teacher in the Department of Visual Media at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design (VŠVU), Bratislava
from 1991 teacher in the Institute of Creative Photography at the Arts and Sciences Faculty of the Silesian University, Opava

PHOTOGRAPHIC CYCLES AND PROJECTS
1972–1974 The Man. North Moravia, CZ.
1974-1975 Roma without Romance. North Moravia, CZ.
from 1974 Children. Europe, Japan, USA.
1975–1978 Backstage (Theatre of Life). CZ.
1977 Photographs from Travels. Brunswick, Germany.
1978–1990 The Village (Village is a World). The Bruntál region. CZ.
1988 The Aš Region [Project of Gallery 4, Cheb]. West Bohemia, CZ.
1991 Croix Rouge / The Red Cross. Reims, France.
1992 14 Looks at the Saint-Quentin District. France.
1992 The Women’s Prison. Pardubice, CZ.
1992–1993 Der Hof / The Farm. Eggenburg, Austria.
1993 The Benedictines. The Benedictine Monastery in Praha-Břevnov, Prague, CZ.
1993 Oberon in Joinville. [Cycle of photographs on staging a puppet theatre]
EDUCATION
1960–1963 Grammar school, Rýmařov
1963–1967 Faculty of Education at Palacký University, Olomouc, specialization in primary education and visual arts for lower secondary schools
1974–1977 School of Art Photography of the Union of Czech Photographers, Prague
2000 Higher doctorate, appointed senior lecturer in the Department of Photography at the Film and Television Faculty of the Academy of Music and Drama, Prague

Born on 5 September 1946 in Vsetín in the Valachian region, Czech Republic. In 1956 the family moved to Těchanov, a village beneath the Jeseníky mountains. He attended grammar school in Rýmařov (1960-1963) and in 1963 began his studies at Palacký University, Olomouc, graduating in art education from the Faculty of Education there in 1967. He was married in Igy. He and his wife Agnes have one daughter Monika.

After graduation he taught at a primary school in Rýmařov, and later became headmaster of village school in Sovinec and Jiříkov. Besides teaching and photography he busied himself with various communal activities. Since 1974 he has directed a gallery at Sovinec where avant-garde artists from Prague, Bratislava, Brno and other cultural centers in the Czech Republic and abroad have shown their work. Since 1998, he is in charge of a gallery in Bruntál.

In 1982 he participated, as the only photographer, in an unofficial exhibition of alternative art which was to have taken place on tennis courts in Prague. His prints provoked the interest of the secret police. He was arrested and remained in custody, finally being sentenced to ten months' imprisonment suspended for two years. The sentence, passed under two articles of the Criminal Code (defamation of the republic and the head of state), was based on an interpretation of photographs - those exhibited as well as those never made public (after an official examination of his whole photographic archive).

The penalty included confiscation of some of the artist's prints and negatives and his camera as the "instrument of a crime." Štreit was forbidden to continue his criminal photographic activity and was kept under surveillance. This case is probably unique in the history of photography.

When released from prison, he was not allowed to go back to teaching. First he found a job in a library but after his case was closed he was forced to look for employment in agriculture. But even as a foreman on a state farm he could not be kept from his cultural and artistic activities.

After the Velvet Revolution of November 1989, Štreit's life changed dramatically. Between 1990 and 1993 Štreit was first an employee of district administration and later of Bruntál museum.

In 1994 he became a freelance photographer. He teaches documentary photography at the Film Academy in Prague (FAMU) and at the Silesian University in Opava.

He was first encouraged to take pictures by his father. In 1964, it was professor Jan Bukovjan who stimulated his interest in photography. As a student, Štreit took part in a few exhibitions, and in 1967 he had his first one-man show. Since 1972 he has systematically devoted himself to documenting country life, focusing on the Gypsy community. In the years 1974-77 he took correspondence courses at the Institute of Art Photography: his graduation piece was a set of backstage theatre photographs. He then returned permanently to documenting the life at Sovinec and surrounding villages.


Jan Yoors

Jan Yoors (1922-1977)

Jan Yoors was born in Antwerp, Belgium to a cultured, liberal family of artists. At the age of twelve he ran off with a Gypsy tribe and lived with the kumpania on and off for the next ten years. (His memoir of this period, "The Gypsies", was published in 1965 and remains a seminal work on the subject). During World War II, Yoors worked with the Allies to help the Gypsies who were being systematically exterminated. He was captured twice and imprisoned until the end of the war (these experiences were recorded in his book,"Crossings", published in 1971).

Before the war, Yoors had studied sculpture at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Antwerp and at the Institue Superieur d'Art de la Cambre in Brussels. Once the war ended, he resumed his studies, enrolling in the School of African and Oriental Studies at London University. While there he was introduced to the art of tapestry in a chance visit to an exhibition of medieval tapestries. He never received much formal training in the medium. His expertise came instead from life-long study of the world's great weaving traditions, from Aubusson to Samarkand. His early work was largely figurative, but became increasingly abstract in his later years.

In 1950 Yoors settled in New York City, where he set up a studio and constructed a 15-foot vertical loom. His wife Marianne and her sister Annebert joined him in 1951; they were to collaborate with Yoors in the weaving of all his work. Jan would start by creating a full-size cartoon and selected Persian wool dyed to his exact specifications. Using the cartoon as a guide, Marianne, Annebert, and other skilled artisans would weave the tapestry under his supervision.

His work brought him international acclaim. His first exhibition was at the Montclair Art Museum in 1956. In 1959 Art in America magazine nominated him as one of the new talents in the USA. Further recognition came when he represented the United States at the International Biennial of Contemporary Tapestries in Lausanne, Switzerland in 1962 and 1965.

In the 1960s Yoors deepened his interest in photography. To research Only One New York, his 1963 feature-length documentary film about the city's ethnic diversity, he shot photographs that were collected in a book of the same name, published in 1965. He also returned to Europe to reestablish contact with those Gypsies who had survived the Holocaust. The pictures he took on this journey became an exhibition at the National Museum of Science in New York City and now illustrate the paperback edition of "The Gypsies".

During his life, Yoors' tapestries were exhibited in numerous museums, galleries, and public buildings and were sold to major public collections. However, marketing his work was never a priority and a vast cache of his work now fills a New York apartment, where Marianne and Annebert continue to weave his unexecuted designs in a studio cluttered with hundreds of Jan Yoors' tapestries, photographs, paintings, prints, and sculptures.

 


Eva Davidova

Eva Davidová

Ethnographer, sociologist, art historian, and photographer, Eva Davidová is one of the founders of Gypsy (Roma) studies in the Czech Republic and has been illuminating and investigating this secretive society for half a century. Davidova took her first photographs of Slovak and Olach (Wallachian) Gypsy (formerly nomadic Romani) communities and made the first audio recordings of Gypsy stories and music in the 1950s. She traveled throughout the country for her research, particularly to visit the Gypsies of central and east Slovakia where most of them lived in traditional “Gypsy settlements,” which they call romane gava. She later recorded the migration of many families to towns in Bohemia and Moravia, including the borderlands, where they settled and lived to this day. Davidová thus documented Gypsy life for a full fifty years, during which time they still practiced their traditional trades, such as blacksmithing, trough-making, and basket-weaving. The collected photographs in this exhibit, made between 1956 and 1995, constitute an unparalleled social and artistic document of everyday Gypsy life and the roads the Gypsies have traveled over this past half century.

At present she lectures at South Bohemian University in the Czech Republic and is a guest lecturer at several other universities abroad.  Eva Davidová is a member of the International Romani Union and is active in the Gypsy Lore Society.

Davidová is an expert in Romany studies, a researcher of Gypsy verbal and music culture. Because of the artistic and documentary quality of her photographic work, she also become a distinctive figure in Czech photography.

The Gypsies love Davidová and consider her “amari čhaj,” one of their own. And Davidová loves Gypsies. “I have never known such tremendous solidarity as I have known among the Gypsies,” she says. “The Gypsies will stand up for you, protect you, and help you. Once, the police came to a Gypsy settlement to check my ID because they thought I was a spy. I did not have any proof that I was a student, so they wanted to take me to the police station. Suddenly the Gypsies made a circle around me and didn’t want to hand me over. They were afraid the police would lock me up, so they stood up to them. It was quite something. At that moment I felt that I was one of them. Although I am not a Gypsy, I have become one inside.”


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