Oldřich Škácha (1941–2014) was a Czech documentary photographer, dissident and signatory of Charter 77. He was famous as one of Václav Havel’s main photographers. He took his first photos of Václav Havel in the early 1970s. This collection of his photographs, which has been part of the archive of the Václav Havel Library since 2015, not only depicts Václav Havel himself, but also the dissident and cultural milieu of pre-1989 Czechoslovakia. These photographs have been exhibited several times. An outdoor exhibition of Oldřich Škácha’s large-format photographs was organised in 2016 in Prague to commemorate the 80th anniversary of Václav Havel’s birth. From August to September 2018, an exhibition entitled “Occupation 1968”, held at the Czech Photo Centre in Prague, presented a collection of photographs by Oldřich Škácha, depicting the first days of the occupation of Czechoslovakia by Warsaw Pact troops. In 2012, more than 60 black-and-white photographs by Oldřich Škácha of Václav Havel between 1975 and 2011 were published in a book entitled “Havel Forever”.
The ‘Inmate Work Log’ is a booklet containing brief notes about the jobs that Grgo Šore, or any other detainee, had to perform on a daily basis during his stay in the prison camp on Goli otok. The entries in the log are dated from February 27 through October 20, 1951. Šore wrote with a pencil and pen, and the log consisted of heading: date, type of work, norm or rating, comment and supervisor’s signature. Queue rules or ratings and supervisor’s signature were completed in Cyrillic by the supervisor, while the comments were left empty. It is evident from the booklet that on Goli otok Šore, apart from heavy physical labour, also worked as a construction technician on the design of industrial facilities and accommodations for inmates (Interview with Dubravka Peić Čaldarović). The document testifies to the torture of inmates in this ideologically motivated camp.
“Goli Goli Goli – The Truth about Goli otok” is a typewritten text about the days of captivity on Goli otok, but it is partially different from the original, and begins with a short biography of the author before his arrest, including specific events that preceded the arrest. Šore spoke about his arrest in Travnik in June 1949 and his transfer to the prison in Sarajevo. On September 1949, about 400 detainees were transported by train from Sarajevo to Herceg Novi, and then by truck to the former Austro-Hungarian fortress on Cape Oštro at the entrance to Boka Kotorska Bay. There, Šore's group joined detainees from Montenegro, and then all boarded a ship that took them to Goli otok. This was the first group of "Cominformists" who came to Goli otok. Before them, there was a smaller group of people on the island who welcomed them with clubs, curses and verbal abuse. Šore spent three years in this environment, in which he experienced the most brutal methods of political “re-education.” Immediately upon their arrival at the prison camp, all inmates had to publicly present facts about their "hostile work" against the communist regime and plead guilty. Also, all inmates had to go to the State Security Administration office to report all the “enemies” among inmates or among those who were still outside the prison camp. Political meetings were held regularly in the prison camp, where the criminal conduct of a particular inmate was discussed based on evidence obtained by mutual spying. Furthermore, ‘cultural-educational’ work was carried out every night, which consisted of reading Party literature, making posters, writing pamphlets, and even short comedy shows. In all forms of cultural and educational work, Josip Broz Tito and his policy in conflict with the Cominform Resolution was praised by the detainees (Interview with Peić Čaldarović, Dubravka).
The prison camp's administration punished inmates with brutal methods that consisted of heavy physical labour, inciting violence among inmates, psychological abuse, and deprivation of food and water. According to Šore's memories, the main penal measures in the camp were: boycotts (severing of any communication with an inmate, overtime labour and reduction of food and water rations), carrying "Anita" (exhaustion by carrying a heavy load), tracer (exhaustion caused by carrying heavy loads with another inmate), the swan (exhaustion by carrying a heavy load together with six other detainees) and the chamber-pot ‘honour’ (guarding the wooden lavatory in the barracks many times per day or for many days). The physical exhaustion of inmates was done to psychologically transform them, or erase their personalities, to create persons loyal to the Party led by Tito. Inmates who underwent been internal punishment or refused to submit to political "re-education" ended up in Building 101. Its purpose was to break disobedient detainees with more difficult conditions of daily labour and more extreme torture methods (Interview with Peić Čaldarović, Dubravka).
Šore described each of these situations and methods of political "re-education" precisely from his own experience or based on the example of one of his fellow inmates. He illustrated some of the most difficult aspects of everyday life with his own drawings under the heading: Tracer/Carrying Heavy Rocks, Water and Food/Boycott by the Wall, Chamber-pot Honour /Swan (Interview with Dubravka Peić Čaldarović).
The work ‘Days of Pain and Pride’ comprises 38 photographs that make up a whole. No single item should therefore be extracted, rather the whole series must be perceived in its entirety.
The album’s title, ‘Days of Pain and Pride’, is ironic, referring to the press media at the time that relentlessly ran the story of the death and funeral of the SFRY’s lifelong president. At the very moment when Tito’s funeral was the leading and only story in the media, assuming the dimensions of a spectacle, the artist decided to participate in this event from an outsider perspective, from the margins, recording the adoration of the Marshal’s image in all its ideological conflict and the absurdity of the kitsch aesthetic. The photo portrait is displayed like an icon, decorated with a black ribbon that in the orthodox, folk tradition represents an expression of mourning for the deceased. The absurd character of these gestures of devotion is in the carnival atmosphere of the street displays, as the image of the leader pops up among fruit and vegetables, loaves of bread, cuts of fresh meat, shirts and skirts...
Literary translator Árpád Göncz at work, Visegrád, Hungary, early 1970s
- Visegrád, Hungary
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