1968 Remembered

Actually I don’t remember too much of the sixties – I was a student for most of them and pretty involved in the events in Manchester which had some interest, although not at quite the same level as Paris, though we did have our demonstrations and of course occupied the university like everyone else.

Had I been taking photographs then I would at least have some aids to jog my memory, but I didn’t have the cash. I have just a few pictures, slides of girlfriends sitting in cherry trees or posing in front of stately homes, a few assorted black and whites, and a set of terrible grey and white wedding photos from what was my personal major event of 1968 (our honeymoon was in Manchester with a day trip by coach to the Lake District.)

But this year, 40 years on, has seen a great deal of time devoted to remembering the other events of 1968, and one of the most dramatic was of course the Soviet Army invasion of Czechoslovakia which brought an end to the ‘Prague Spring’. This was the first news event that a 30 year old Czech photographer covered, and he risked his life using his Exacta camera to produce an amazing set of black and white pictures. A year later these images, smuggled out of the country were published anonymously as it was thought they could endanger his life, and the 1969 Robert Capa gold medal for photographs requiring exceptional courage was awarded to that anonymous Czech photographer.

The following year, Joseph Koudelka, with a little help from Magnum and the British authorities was allowed to leave the country for England on a 3-month visa and not return when it expired.  The Magnum Blog has a set of 10 images from that 1968 invasion, as well as links to a set of 100 images from it as well as some of his later work.

A new book from Aperture features his pictures: Invasion 68: Prague, and his work will also be on show shortly in New York at the Aperture Gallery (Sept. 5 – Oct. 30, 2008) and Pace/MacGill Gallery (Sept. 4 – Oct. 11, 2008.)

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