Street Photograher of the Week by Josef Koudelka
Josef Koudelka was born in 1938, trained as an aeronautical engineer until 1967 when he decided to take up photography.
He had returned from a project photographing gypsies in Romania just two days before the Soviet invasion, in August 1968. He witnessed and recorded the military forces of the Warsaw Pact as they invaded Prague and crushed the Czech reforms. Koudelka’s negatives were smuggled out of Prague into the hands of the Magnum agency, and published anonymously in The Sunday Times Magazine under the initials P. P. (Prague Photographer) for fear of reprisal to him and his family.
His pictures of the events became dramatic international symbols. In 1969 the “anonymous Czech photographer” was awarded the Overseas Press Club’s Robert Capa Gold Medal for photographs requiring exceptional courage.
With Magnum to recommend him to the British authorities, Koudelka applied for a three-month working visa and fled to England in 1970, where he applied for political asylum and stayed for more than a decade. In 1971 he joined Magnum Photos. A nomad at heart, he continued to wander around Europe with his camera and little else.
This simple but absolutely stunning image is so finely balanced you can almost hear a pin drop. Marrying darker tones together, with spots, activity, with rest, the ordinary with the exceptional, Koudelka transforms a couple of guys, a horse and the landscape into folklore, forcing the viewer to ask question about who, what, where, when and most of all why? Beginning your journey through the image the guy in the centre, bent at a crooked angle watches the ball thrower who reveals the guy lying down which leads to the horse and finally to the hut/building on the horizon. Image over? No. The ball leads you back down into the guy throwing it , who leads to the guy on the floor , to the horse, to the hut on the landscape. This cyclical journey reads like a poem, a folk tune and endless moment of ordinary filled with the beauty of life. It’s untitled. it’s your story.