1. 7. - 22. 9. 2019
RECONTRES D'ARLES 2019
EVOKATIV by Libuše Jarcovjáková
The street, night, sex, work, alcohol, love, and depression. Libuše Jarcovjáková’s photos are captured with a self-destructive lack of restraint. She is unafraid of imperfection, she portrays the world around her, other people, and her feelings of apparent hopelessness with unwavering honesty. The book features photographs taken between 1970 and 1989 in Prague, in communist Czechoslovakia during a dark period of political oppression and lack of personal freedom. Libuše Jarcovjáková’s photographs, on the other hand, recount freedom, express fluidity and atmosphere, and bear an authentic and clear-eyed witness to the life of an artist.
Curated by Lucie Černá
Authentic. Visual. Life affirming. Libuše Jarcovjáková’s photographs tell a story, her own story. From the very start she took photos in a personal, clearly profiled style that blends rawness with poetry. Snapshots seemingly taken without forethought, mostly using flash, at angles in which the subject has no opportunity to escape or notice that they have become the victim of the uncompromising and predatory lens.
The exhibition presents a selection of photographs taken between 1970 and 1989 in Prague, Czechoslovakia, during a dark time for freedom. But Jarcovjáková didn’t care. She lived, took photos, and loved. Her work is not a document of an age, it is an authentic record of the life of a photographer who experienced everything she shot. The world as seen through the viewfinder of a camera suddenly made sense. The young artist lived fast and spontaneously, with friends or alone, at night, in bars, in the company of men or women. Often she did not have the time to appreciate fully what was going on in the mêlée surrounding her. It was living for the moment, in the here and now, that connected her with the communities that remained off the radar of the communist regime. Whether these were Gypsies or members of the Prague gay scene, she found refuge with them, they were her family, and she felt good, natural and free in their company.
Jarcovjáková lived a double life. On the one hand, she was friend with workers, lived in pubs. On the other, she moved within the intellectual circles of the Film and TV School of the Academy of Performing Arts (FAMU) in Prague, where she studied photography. And yet it was in vain that she sought recognition and understanding of her work. Her photographic language was in stark contrast with the Czechoslovak documentary school of the 1970s and 80s. For many years her work was approached with caution. However, with lack of interest came great freedom. She took photographs for herself and of how she felt - idiosyncratically and independently. She became her own teacher, critic and mentor. She came to trust her intuition and her compulsive need to record everything. The themes of her work – the street, the night, sex, work, alcohol, love, depression – were shot with a self-destructive spontaneity. She was unafraid of imperfection, but captured her surroundings, people and her own feelings in their raw state.
Modern prints / Josef Horázný
Wallpaper / Atelier SHL, Arles
Framing / CIRCAD
Partners of the exhibition / Ministry of Culture Czech Republic, Czech Center Paris, Les Recontres d'Arles
The New York Times, Their Bodies Were Weapons: Dissident Photographers of the 1980, Tom Seymour
The Guardian, Top 10 photography shows of 2019, Sean O’Hagan
British Journal of Photography - September issue
British Journal of Photography, Best of 2019: Sean O’Hagan
Le Monde, Libuse Jarcovjakova, journal intime d’une Tchécoslovaque opprimée, Claire Guillot
Libération, Libuse jarcovjáková, les contretemps de Prague, Jérémy Piette