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Photo Images of Eastern Europe's Broken Dream

posted September 16, 1998

For two decades beginning in the late '70s, Czech photographer Antonin Kratochvil returned from the U.S. to Eastern Europe, each time documenting daily life, social upheaval and the radical changes taking place in the Communist Bloc.

About 50 of his photographs will be displayed in "Broken Dream: 20 Years of Photographs in Eastern Europe," an exhibit at the Center for Photography in the Graduate School of Journalism, Sept. 17 to Jan. 19.

At the opening reception Sept. 24, from 5:15 to 7 p.m., Kratochvil will present a slide lecture and sign copies of his book of photographs on which the exhibition is based.

Kratochvil escaped from Czechoslovakia in 1967 at age 20 and spent years in an Austrian refugee camp before he studied documentary photography in Amsterdam. In 1976 he became a U.S. citizen and made a new life on the California coast.

"I started to yearn for the grayness of Eastern Europe," he later wrote. He returned with a camera to the land behind the Iron Curtain, an experience he likened to psychotherapy.

During 20 years of traveling through Albania, Hungary, Poland, Romania, East Germany and the Soviet Union, he captured images of human adaptation to factory-blackened skies and food shortages, as well as Eastern Europe's euphoria as the communist regimes began to collapse.

Kratochvil's many awards include the International Center for Photography's 1991 journalist of the year award. He has also documented upheavals in Afghanistan, the war in Rwanda, Tibetan refugees and rain forest destruction in the Amazon.

For information contact the Center for Photography at 642-4825.


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