Miroslava Hajek

* 1947

  • "Brno is a small city, so everybody gets together there. Today they talk about the Brno Bohemian. Everybody used to say - Řezníček, who is dead already, Goldflam... - that it was the four of us [the Hájek sisters, Řezníček, Goldflam] who founded the Brno Bohemian, which practically didn't exist. We made fun of everything, as they say in Brno - 'sranda' [kidding - trans.]. The interesting thing is that the whole thing expanded. I don't even know all those people. So it started with the Brno Bohemian. The demiurge Jan Novák was reciting some of his poetry on a plague column, and people started booing him and throwing rotten tomatoes at him or something, and we found it funny. He turned around and said he saw that the whole Brno Bohemian gang had gathered around him. We used to go to the café Bohéma behind the New Theatre, but we usually met at home. The neighbours used to tell my parents: 'Your girls have strange suitors.' We were the only ones there, me and my sister. We, the Hájek sisters, are mentioned in books by Řezníček and Goldflam. Even though my sister and I were then erased. In retrospect, I wonder if it was because Ivana was truly the best painter of that generation in Brno and that she got into an exhibition in West Berlin. I often do exhibitions for Czechs, and instead of solidarity and artists supporting each other, they try to knock each other down. The envy involved here is a terrible thing."

  • "We [my sister and I] spent 1969, the anniversary of the Invasion, in Prague. They said it was held in Brno too, but they didn't shoot people there. Here in Prague, they did. They said there were some victims near the Black Madonna [House of the Black Madonna, a well-known building in the Old Town - trans.]. We must not talk about it because their descendants are still alive. It was terrible. My sister and I saw it. People were coming to the protest on their way home from work. It was at two in the afternoon. When my sister and I think about it, we break down and cry. We managed to get away. The Hájek sisters - one tall, one short, like Siamese twins. Ivana went up against those guys. I only watched. They were definitely drugged. My sister asked if they'd let us go telling them we needed to catch a train. They let her go, and I followed right behind her, and we passed. But they were still shooting. I looked back, and my sister too, and we saw blood. We saw a lady with a baby... I am sure we will never know how many people they killed there."

  • "We would have come back. We asked for an extension because we got a scholarship in Italy. Ivana went to Rome because there was no Consulate in Milan at the time. There, a gentleman approached me and told me not to come back, saying that we would end up badly and that protests were being held against us. I don't know the man's name, but it would indeed have turned out badly for us because prison during that period was no walk in the park. Anyhow, they dragged our mother into the process, and then they put her in a mental institution for two years. I don't know what they injected her with, but she never quite got out of it. So we felt guilty, even though it wasn't our fault. There's a lot of unresolved stuff. I wanted to take a look at the process. Then when I was able to come back, my mom took me to the trial. I was rehabilitated. The funny thing was that I was rehabilitated by the same judge who convicted us. I wanted to see the file, but there was nothing there. They told me that the secret police had taken the documents."

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Praha, 07.02.2023

    duration: 41:48
    media recorded in project Stories of the 20th Century TV
  • 2

    Praha, 03.03.2023

    duration: 03:13:10
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
Full recordings are available only for logged users.

Better not come back to Czechoslovakia

Miroslava Hájková, 1966
Miroslava Hájková, 1966
photo: witness archive

Miroslava Hajek, née Hájková, was born on 26 March 1947 in Brno into the family of doctor Miroslav Hájek and Alžběta, née Bělehrádková. On her father’s side, she has ancestors from the family of Tadeáš Hájek of Hájek and also Italian ancestors. Miroslava’s grandmother came from Russia. Among the significant personalities of the family were, for example, her great-grandfather František Bělehrádek (1867-1935), director of the Central Education Association [Ústřední matice školská - trans.], and her great-uncle Jan Bělehrádek (1896-1980), an anti-Nazi resistance fighter, rector of Charles University, who went into exile after 1948. Miroslava grew up with her older sister Ivana. They both graduated from the Secondary School of Arts and Crafts in Brno. While Ivana went on to become a painter and artist, Miroslava established herself as an art curator and art historian focusing on modern and contemporary art. She studied art history at the Faculty of Arts of Jan Evangelista Purkyně University in Brno from 1965 to 1969. Both sisters belonged to the hard core of the so-called Brno Bohemian movement in the 1960s, which held performances and happenings. During the annual anti-occupation demonstration in August 1969, she witnessed people getting shot in Prague. Afterwards, she and her sister travelled to Italy for an artistic meeting called “Eleven Days of Collective Art”. They obeyed warnings not to return to Czechoslovakia because of the risk of political persecution and imprisonment and stayed in Italy. Miroslava founded an art gallery in Novara in 1970, which later became the UXA cultural centre, which she ran until 2000. As an organizer and curator of both independent and collective exhibitions in Italy, she has presented several Czech and Slovak artists. She organized art film shows, projects presenting art as an environment, multimedia installations and concerts. She compiled a collection of the most important works by Bruno Munari, which is the basis of a body of artworks documenting the context of European art and philosophy. As a curator, she is well known even outside Italy, having organized exhibitions in India, Ireland, Germany, France and Austria, among others. Since 1990 she has lived partly in Prague and Novara, Italy.