Josef / Joseph KOUDELKA, Will Guy (essay)


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"This book is a revised and enlarged version of the original maquette for Josef Koudelka’s 'Cikáni' (Czech for Gypsies) prepared by Koudelka and graphic designer Milan Kopřiva in 1968, and intended for publication in Prague in 1970. Koudelka left Czechoslovakia in 1970 after extensively documenting the Russian invasion of Prague in August 1968. The book was never published in that original form.
This extended version consists of 109 photographs taken between 1962 and 1971 in what was, at the time, Czechoslovakia (Bohemia, Moravia, and Slovakia), Romania, Hungary, France, and Spain. The word Gypsies (the common name for this group when the photographs were taken between 1962 and 1971, before the current term Roma was established) is used as the book title." (publisher's note, Steidl, 2011)

"Joseph Koudelka\'s photographs aim at a visul distillation of a pattern of human values: a pattern that involves theater, large gesture, brave style, precious camarderie and bitter loneliness. The pattern and texture of his pictures form the silent equivalent of an epic drama. Koudelka\'s pictures seem to concern themselves with prototypical rituals, and a theater of ancient and unchangeable fables. Their motive is perhaps not psychological but religious. Perhaps they describe not the small and cherished differences that distinguish each of us from all others, but the prevailing circumstance that encloses us." (John Szarkowski, Director,Department of PhotographyThe Museum of Modern Art)

"Rarely has a body of work been so deserving of two completely different editions.” (Time) --- "“Mr. Koudelka's stark images depict the poverty and clannishness of Gypsy life, but unlike many documentary photographers, he does not present their situation as a social problem that can somehow be fixed. Instead, he shows the Gypsies as perpetual outsiders, and their life as a primal mix of glee and wonder, sorrow and mystery.” (The New York Times) ---
“Gives a palpable sense of a people apart, unto themselves, dislocated from contemporary society and even time.” (Huffington Post) --- “Koudelka brings to life the even older world of the Roma gypsies that he encountered in his travels in the late 1960s and early 1970s in images that resonate with mystery and ritual, romance and hardship.” (The Guardian)

"Ein Buch mit seinen Fotografien von 'Roma' hatte Josef KOUDELKA bereits 1968 zusammen mit dem Designer Milan Kopřiva entworfen. Es sollte in der Tschechoslowakei unter dem Titel 'Cikáni' (tschechisch für Roma) veröffentlicht werden. Doch dazu kam es nicht, denn der Fotograf musste aus politischen Gründen das Land verlassen.
In Paris entstand eine veränderte Ausgabe: Sie enthielt eine Auswahl von sechzig Fotografien, die Roma aus dem Osten der Slowakei zeigten. Sie erschien 1975 in Frankreich unter dem Titel 'Gitans, la fin du voyage' und in den USA und wurde eines der wichtigsten Fotobücher des 20. Jahrhunderts.

Für den Fotoband 'Roma' hat Josef KKOUDELKA seinen ursprünglichen Entwurf überarbeitet und erweitert.
Das Buch enthält nun alle von 1962 bis 1971 entstandenen Fotografien aus Böhmen, Mähren und der Slowakei, Rumänien, Ungarn, Frankreich und Spanien." (publisher's note, © Steidl, 2011)