In 1975, the first edition of Josef Koudelka’s photographs was published by Robert Delpire in a book that became a myth and was never published again. In 2011, Josef Koudelka exhumed a former dummy of the same book and decided to re-publish it with a larger amount of photographs. Exceptional pictures, exhibited for the first time together, unique prints, the show tells, through unpublished documents, the story of those two books published with a thirty-six-year gap.
In the 1975 edition, Robert Delpire said about this special project that impacted the twentieth century history of photography: ‘In the very stillness of the characters Josef questions and who question him, there is a kind of tension, a quivering, the muffled murmuring of flowing blood suddenly contained. It is not so much the temporary nature of immobility, the suspended time peculiar to the snapshot, as the feeling that this precarious immutability is only a surface phenomenon. Beneath each of these weather-beaten and hairless complexions silently glides the ice of all fears. Rooted like dried trees inside these bare, white walls, men mark out lines, indicate the masses of a statistically geometric order. Prisoners of the attention that they bring to bear, without naivety, on the photographic event, they are both witnesses and actors of their own presence. Whether they keep watch over the victim of a murder, show their pathetic treasures or flaunt themselves in front of Josef in the ironic ostentation of an accepted impoverishment, they give to the image its weight of classicism and tradition.’
Robert Delpire, excerpt from ‘Josef ou la fureur de voir’, 1975.
Exhibition produced with the support of Magnum Photos.
Prints by Vojin Mitrovic, Georges Fèvre, Picto.
Framing partly by Circad, Paris.