“Zdravstvuy, brother from Greater Russia. My, how an assault rifle suits you! What are you going to do when you have to obey the order to fire?”
So said one of the graffito on the walls of Prague in August 1968 when the tanks of the Red Army rolled into Prague. In one day, within a matter of hours, I went from learning about Josef Koudelka’s life and legacy of photographs (at the C|O) documenting the invasion of Prague by the Red Army (almost 49 years to the day) to… Helmut Newton, who personified the classical playboy, hanging out with the rich and famous and the beautiful, and his stable of nudes (at the Museum für Fotografie).
Koudelka endured a two-decades long exile from his homeland, and after that, documented the tear between Israel and Palestine orchestrated and symbolized by the monstrous, 9 meters tall, 700 kms long, Israeli wall made of steel, concrete, barbed wire and motion detectors. The hardest time Newton and his buddies seemed to have had was relaxing by or splashing around in Jean Pigazzi’s pool.
The exhibition notes said it best about Koudelka whose “interest is dedicated to ethnic and social groups which are threatened by extinction or expulsion, and often reflect (his) own nomadic way of life.” What about Newton? I don’t know, and I don’t really care.