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FW: Slovak Embassy Presents Photographic Exhibit About Invasion ofthe Warsaw Pact's Armies to Czechoslovakia

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  • Gregory J Kopchak
    Embassy of the Slovak Republic, Friends of Slovakia and O.K.O. Agency cordially invite you to visit the exhibit Ladislav Bielik CONTACT (SHEETS) August 68 in
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 22, 2003
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      Embassy of the Slovak Republic, Friends of Slovakia and O.K.O. Agency
      cordially invite you to visit the exhibit

      Ladislav Bielik CONTACT (SHEETS) August 68 in Slovakia
      a photographic document commemorating the 35th anniversary of the invasion
      of the Warsaw Pact¹s armies to Czechoslovakia
      which is on display until September 30, 2003 at the
      Koloman Sokol Gallery
      Embassy of Slovakia
      3523 International Court, NW
      Washington, DC 20008

      VIEWING BY APPOINTMENT ONLY. Please, call Tel.: (202) 237 1054, ext. 240

      The exhibition will also travel to Pittsburgh, PA and will be on display at
      the William Pitt Student Union Center, University of Pittsburgh (20-25
      October, 2003); Western Reserve Historic Museum, Cleveland, OH (22 November
      2003 ­ January 2004); The National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library,
      Cedar Rapids, IO (January-February 2004); Arts Incubator, Kansas City, KS
      (March-April 2004); and Denver, CO (May 2004).

      About Ladislav Bielik
      Attempting to name the first Slovak photojournalist in history, the
      historian would probably soon give up the idea. However, the historian would
      not hesitate a moment to identify the period in which a whole group of
      photographers transgressed the borders of provincialism in photography. In
      the sixties, Karol Kallay, Matej Stepita-Klauco, Bohumil Puskailer and
      Ladislav Bielik created the oeuvre, which elevated for the first time a
      seemingly marginal genre to the sphere of opinion expressed by a majority of
      the young generation.

      With this informal stream every photographer occupies a different place. If
      Karol Kallay discovered, thanks to photography, ³the human family² in Rome,
      Mexico or New York, and Matej Stepita-Klauco and Bohumil Puskailer revealed
      the urban world of Slovakia, the generation of pop culture, hippies, and the
      Beatles, then Ladislav Bielik transformed the occupation of Czechoslovakia
      in August 1968 into an agony of civilization. Every one of then achieved the
      same in different subjects, i.e. photojournalism provided no description but
      revealed the sense of the situation in an image.

      The core of Bielik¹s intuitive skill to interpret the crucial moments of the
      days in August 1968 undoubtedly lies in his long practice as a sports
      photojournalist. Nevertheless, it is a fact that hundreds or even thousands
      of photographs of the occupation of Czechoslovakia were taken, but only two
      photographers made history ­ Josef Koudelka reporting on a great tragedy in
      the streets of Prague and Ladislav Bielik revealing the cruelty and agony of
      the occupation of Bratislava. Both photographers created from this historic
      event, we mercilessly depart from, a timeless testimony on human destiny, on
      attitudes forming the basis of culture.

      Bielik¹s photograph of Emil Gallo from 21 August 1968, halting a tank for a
      few moments beyond a Bratislava bridge in a defiant gesture of despair,
      became the photograph of the year. We can see it in many books on one
      hundred photographs of the twentieth century, followed by the photograph of
      Neil Armstrong, the captain of the spaceship Apollo 11, the first man to
      step on the moon in July 1969. Although it does not seem, yet there is some
      logic in the contrast between the two men from Safarik Square in Bratislava,
      Emil Gallo and Ladislav Bielik, and the American astronaut. Without freedom
      that Bielik and Gallo resolutely struggled for regardless of consequences,
      the famous quotation ³one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind²
      would be impossible.

      Modern Slovak twentieth century history records two acts of great heroism ­
      the Slovak National Uprising and a strong resistance against the occupation
      in August 1968. It is a coincidence of history that Bielik brought the most
      important message of the former and latter event ­ though in the first case
      it was Palo with his film For Freedom (1944) while in the latter it was
      Ladislav Bielik.


      Press Office, Embassy of Slovakia
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