Dana Kyndrová

* 1955

  • “While searching for pictures for Masaryk’s collection my mum got to know both President Masaryk’s granddaughters and established contact with them. They were extremely sceptical, didn’t participate in public life or anything. When invited to attend some meeting or the assembly of the Club of Committed Non-Party Members, one of them told my mum: ‚Ms. Kyndrová, neither me nor my sister want to attend because one day it will turn out very badly. Don’t you want to go instead of us?‘ My mum and her sister accepted it and it ended up in faux-pas: everyone thought they were Masaryk’s granddaughters before it was clarified. On 21 August 1968 someone called us at 3 a.m. and my mum immediatelly called Ms. Masaryková who told her: ‚Mrs. Kyndrová, I know it since 11 p.m. It had to end this way.‘ My mum worked in the Orbis publishing house and the editor-in-chief gave an order: ‚Everyone who knows how to shoot, take to the streets. We will make a large collection, it will sell.’ My mum went to take pictures and me and my father were wandering through Prague. He showed me everything and said: ‘Watch and realize.’”

  • “I took pictures of communist manifestations. The whole totalitarian regime mirrored itself in them. People crouched against the system but then they went to those official events and formally supported it. I saw the substance of the regime’s schizophrenia in this farce. I attended the first communist manifestation in 1973 at Wenceslas Square; I was eighteen years old back then. Since 1974 the manifestations were held at Letná Plain. I would go each and every year to take pictures. It was not that much of an adventure – I rather approached it politically.“

  • “It was a tedious, boring time. It wasn’t possible to travel abroad much; people became closed in their little worlds. Pavel Štecha for instance made a project about cottages – back then I didn’t see it as anything important but even my parents found satisfaction in caring for an old house in the Polabí region. They were active, always repairing something on it. We would go there and work as slaves.“

  • “My mum always wanted me to take photographs but I didn’t want to. Once, people were making fun of me, saying I’m a nerd who will achieve nothing in life. I was at some party, got home at 2 a.m. and cried in there. My mum made smart use of this. She came to my room, asked what was up and told me: ‘Try photography. Show them you are as good as them.’ And indeed, under this influence I went to Podolí with my first film. I walked down the riverbank taking pictures. I had a 400 ISO film in there so that I wouldn’t need to focus; wide-angle. On my first picture was an old lady standing on a box and selling newspaper. After pressing the shutter release I went to hide behind the water reservoir because I felt the whole of Podolí was watching my steps. We developed the film and my mum explained me what composition mistakes I made. I found a liking for photography. At grammar school, prof. Divíšek who had a great understanding for documentary taught us art. I also tried to photograph Moldau’s nooks but I had an inclination towards documentary. We were preparing an exhibition back then and he told me: ‚Do this live thing, that suits you. Damn the nooks.‘“

  • “At one moment, the cardinal standing at the balcony said that now we would pray. Everyone on the courtyard had kneeled except for the secret police members who didn’t know what to do. It was completely insane! I took a picture of it and was worried about preserving the film. I ran to hide in St. Vitus cathedral where I pulled the film out and hid it in my stockings. Then I moved to Haštal where the main spiritual event was about to take place but there was hardly anybody there anymore because the main protest was held at Hradčany.”

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    Praha, 24.03.2015

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“Communist manifestations showed me the substance of regime’s schizophrenia.”

Dana Kyndrová (2015)
Dana Kyndrová (2015)

Dana Kyndrová was born on 4 April 1955 in Prague. From 1964 to 1966 she lived with her parents in Algeria where she studied French. She later graduated with degrees in the Russian and French languages at Faculty of Philosophy and Arts, Charles University in Prague. She made a living as a tourist guide and language teacher (until 1989 at the Czech Technical University, then at the Academy of Performing Arts). Ever since high-school, she enjoyed taking photographs, among her most frequent subjects during normalization were the communist manifestations which she began documenting in 1973. After spending six months in Togo in 1975, she organized her first exhibition. In 1978 under the leadership of Anita Fárová she got involved in a photography project of students of the Academy of Performing Arts, attempting to capture the disappearing Žižkov quarter in Prague. Since 1986, she regularly participated in anti-communist demonstrations which she also took pictures of. Ever since 1993, she has been a professional photographer. She published two books: Irredeemable Faith in a Better Future; and 1945 Liberation... 1968 Occupation: Soviet Armies in Czechoslovakia. She organized exhibitions Liberation, Occupation, Departure; or Czech Fated Dates.