Confronting Borders Old and New: An Interview With Josef Koudelka


Prague, negative August 1968; print 1990. Image courtesy of © Josef Koudelka/Magnum Photos

I grew up behind the Iron Curtain, like many people in Eastern and Central Europe. All my life I wanted to go behind the Wall, to go on the other side. But in fact I never saw the Wall. It was difficult to get close, they wouldn’t let us. To try to get close meant that you are trying to escape. But in spite of that the Wall was present all the time in my mind. I wanted to get out of the cage, to see what was on the other side. I knew that what they were telling us was not true, that they were trying to manipulate us. I wanted to learn for myself what the truth is.

Exiles, 1968, Wall… Josef Koudelka’s work makes borders visible, while his personal story of a nomad, based upon his work and views. He has been crossing many borders, challenging the ‘Old World’ by that. Which role does his testimony of isolation and communication play in these days?

Read the whole interview here:

2004 – the year of change


Joining the European Union meant a break in the post-November history of migration from Slovakia. While until 2004 one needed to organize working permit and search for contacts which could mediate a job in the West, after May 2004, it was not necessary anymore. It was enough, almost literally, to have just ‘a bit of courage and few euros for a flight ticket’. This change is connected also to a gradual fall of inner migration selectivity. People leaving the country prior to joining EU disposed of larger human and social capital more often. In years after our entering the EU, the availability ‘democratized’ the migration, which meant the people leaving resembled a representative sample of Slovak population more and more. The younger with knowledge of English were still in advantage, but this advantage became to dissolve with the growing communities of our people (not only) behind the La Manche channel.