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Dear Reader,

There are two reasons my blog has been rather quiet of late:

1. I am in Velvet 17, a group photography exhibition, from November 10-24.  Read the press release here and click here to go to our facebook page where you can see pictures of us setting up.  And if you live near Prague, come check out the exhibition in person, it’s open daily from 11-19:00 at Superstudio Bubenska, Bubenska 1.

2.  Stay posted for the launch of my new website!  My friend Bryan Stedman has been building my site for me and I love his work.  It’ll be up and running any day now…

3.  Want some inside information about Velvet 17?  Here’s my perspective on our exhibit:

Why 17?  November 17th, 1989 was the day of the Velvet Revolution, a peaceful protest that brought about the end of the Communist regime in the Czech Republic.

Minna Pyyhkala photographed and interviewed members of the blind community.  She explores what fundamental rights the blind receive from the current government and whether their rights are being ignored.  Several of her subjects are in the vocal-instrumental ensemble MUSICA PRO SANCTA CECILIA.  They played for our opening last night.  It was really special to witness the familiar faces from Minna’s portraits playing live music.

Saneesh Sukumaran’s photographs depict people’s memories and stories from the Communist era and, as you see the images and read the corresponding stories, you can almost hear the refrain this is what we will remember.  His iconic image of a girl wearing a gas mask silhouetted against a large window lingers in your mind long after you have walked away.

Melanie Blanding’s nine images hang in a 3×3 square.  Each photo seems like a portal to a different time, a time when the buildings of Prague were drab, the sky hung low, and everything was grey, grey, grey…  Her theme is inspired by “City of Hysteria” by the underground band Pulnoc and the experience of her photos is incomplete without City of Hysteria playing in the background.  (PS–the images used in the youtube video are not Melanie’s–I just wanted you to get a feel for the song!)

Lindy Van Kats highlights the current condition of education by gathering stories from eight teachers who work in Prague.  Lindy’s topic is a timely one, as teachers in the Czech Republic are overlooked and underpaid, yet they have an integral role in shaping the future generation.

Honza Horak Speaking of the future generation, Honza spoke with teenagers in Prague to gauge how successful Czech society has been in handing down the testimony of the past.  His images are as bright and bold as his subjects, as the teenagers individually strike a pose with a massive Czech flag.

Šárka Thérová’s work brings the viewer to the Czech Republic circa 1970-1990.  She warmly portrays everyday objects; a netted shopping bag and an old telephone exude a sense of sweet memories.   Some of the objects, however, belie their nostalgic feel; a crystal glass with the backdrop of an old family vacation photo is actually a reference to the longing for a holiday in an era when you had to wait for exit permits which were rarely granted–and when you received the permission, it would only allow you to travel to another country in the Eastern Bloc.

As for Me? I traveled far and wide to ask Czech people how their lives have changed or remained the same since the fall of communism.  After I heard people’s stories I would photograph them, often in their own homes.  It was an honour to listen to people and learn about the history of this country in such a personal way.  From a mosaic of multiple backgrounds and stories, a theme emerged before me: the society in which we exist affects even the most intimate parts of our lives: from the food we buy to the relationships with the family members we love the most, yet sometimes know the least.

Stay tuned for more on my Velvet 17 series when my new website is up.

With love from Prague,

Talitha

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Prague, CZ.  27 January 2010.

Prague, CZ. 27 January 2010.

Why “doma”?  Read about it here.

Prague, CZ.  16 January 2010.

A simple curve of snow can transform a functional pipe into a study of strong and elegant lines.

Prague, CZ.  24 January 2010.

Doma (dohmah) is the way you say “at home” in Czech.  The word for house or home is dům (doom) and the word changes to doma instead of adding “at”.  “At home” seems like an appropriate theme both for this week and for the first post of 2010.  I have lived in the Czech Republic for almost a year now and I can genuinely say that I have begun to feel at home.  The oddly angled streets, the taste of icy air, the look of pale winter sunlight on the stylized buildings of my neighbourhood: all this is now familiar to me.  The foreign Czech syllables are no longer entirely unintelligible to me and I can carry on a conversation beyond ordering a meal.  After living many places, the idea of home has multiple meanings for me and I’ve found one constant I can bank on: change.  Thus, I revel in this new familiarity.

“At home” is also an apt theme because I have spent many of my days in my kitchen this month working at my easel in preparation for an exhibit in February.  I am exploring the theme of memory through a series of black and white photographs and several paintings.  As you can imagine, I have picked up my camera very little this month in an effort to keep my focus on the task at hand.  Even so, there are moments when I cannot help myself and I must record unexpected moments of discovery or beauty that occur in my very flat.

My roof is not a new subject for me; I’m fascinated by the green metalwork set against the red tiles.  This week, I looked down instead of up for the first time and chanced upon “1975” scrawled or scratched in red on green.  Can you imagine my delight?  I wonder what story is behind this 1975 and how such simple marks can hold my interest so.

Staroměstská radnice (Old Town Square), Prague, CZ.  18 December 2009.

See this post for the story.

Staroměstská radnice (Old Town Square), Prague, CZ.  18 December 2009.

See previous post for the story.