Jaroslav Beneš

* 1946

  • "When I was walking down that alley, I had great luck, because I met one of my old acquaintances, David Matásek, there. This was a young man I've known since he was five, he's my friend's son. He was such a huge "bear" of a man, an actor of the National Theater today, back then he was not yet. And he was so huge and I'm not of big stature again, so I crouched behind him and he was hit a lot with the baton, whilst we were running and I just had a torn coat sleeve, because they grabbed me back and tore my coat sleeve. So I hid a lot behind David's extensive shoulders. "

  • "I remember that we followed the highway over the sea- as they have the new ones, and the gentleman asked us where we were from, where we traveled before. And we said that in Kosovo. And how did you like it there? the man asked. Well, amazing people, fantastic, and he got out and drove us out of the car. If we were Albanians, maybe he would have cut our throats. Everyone there asked where we were from, and we said Czechoslovakia, and I had my shoulder battered, because everyone patted us there, the Czechs were also liked by the people of Kosovo, anyway. "

  • "I was woken up at around five o clock in the morning by a strange sound, I turned on the radio because I never actually had a television, and I heard a message there, yes. So I went to town, and we watched what else we could do about it. Yeah, and I know we bought a box of tomatoes and threw a tomato and something awkward at them, and then my future first wife and I went to some villages and remade the direction signs, sort of. ”

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Praha, 04.02.2022

    duration: 02:00:49
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
  • 2

    Praha, 08.02.2022

    duration: 51:14
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
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He threw tomatoes at the occupiers, and was driven from the Narodni street by batons

Jaroslav Beneš as the so-called manicka, 1975
Jaroslav Beneš as the so-called manicka, 1975
photo: Archiv pamětníka

Jaroslav Beneš was born on February 27, 1946 in Pilsen. The communist regime nationalized the hairdressing salon of his parents. He worked for ten years at the Alfa Theatre in Pilsen as a set designer and photographer, then for decades as an archivist and photographer for Prague waterworks. In August 1968, he threw tomatoes at the Soviet occupiers and repainted local signs. They organized exhibitions at home with his wife, Jana Skalická, and established cross-border collaborations with Polish artists. He kept the Obroda group’s documents in custody. In the late 1980s, he went to demonstrate at all anti-regime actions. He took part in a demonstration on November 17, 1989 and became a direct participant in police brutality on Národní třída. After 1989, he exhibited at home and abroad and received a scholarship from the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He was one of the founders of the Prague House of Photography and the photographic group Český dřevák. In 2022 he lived in Prague.