Alexandr Satinský

* 1963  

  • “As I would be counting change, there would be this hulk of a man sitting next to me. His face blackened with sooth, he would ask me whether I had enough money. I told him I have enough to buy just one beer and I went to order it. After I finished it, I took out my wallet again and I would be counting the money. And the guy siting next to me would ask again: 'Got no money, or what?' So I told him I was broke. So he would say that he would buy me one, and indeed, after a while there he was, coming from the bar with beer. I thought he wanted to chat so tried to start a conversation. I had been trying to talk for a while as he was sizing me up, and in the end, he would ask me: 'For fucks sake! Did you come to have a beer or to talk rubbish?' I told him I came to have a beer. And the miner of Ostrava would say: 'So drink.' And I would obey, sitting on a chair without saying a word, I would drink maybe six beers that evening. And we wouldn´t say a word. In the end, I would say goodbye to him. He would just pay my bill and order another beer. And I would get out of the pub and pass out in the bushes.”

  • “I used to spend quite a lot of time at the Svinovy railway. I would buy myself four beers, which they would serve me in a wax cup. This utterly disgusting Ostravar beer. Back then, it had been almost undrinkable, but today, it´s much better. And I would be sitting on the platform, watching trains, reading and drinking. The most exhilarating experience would be as the express train from Warsaw to Vienna would arrive. It would regularly show up at nightfall. And I would be could in that bleak autumn air so I would huddle in my coat, watching the carriages from which this soft yellow light would pour, illuminating the station. Inside, people in t-shirts would be sitting, talking. And I would watch them, knowing that the train would cross the border in few hours and they would be in that completely different world of which I could only dream of. Those were the moments I felt that happiness was almost within my reach. I would tell myself: 'Just look at it. You have to sit hear on the platform and they would just leave for Vienna to pursue their happiness.' And for me, that would be the proof that this happiness indeed could be found somewhere. And to realise there were places where people has been living for real, that in fact was a beautiful thing.”

  • “I would learn a lot. As these guys wouldn't give me anything for free. And as time would pass I would get to know their character. I had been working with such a great boys as David Neff or Michal Sváček. Not to mention Herbert Slavík. And smog was one of the most important topics covered by the journalists in the 90s. Back then, it had been this big issue across the country. And I remember Herbi would call us in the morning as we were having a meeting and he would tell us: 'Take a photo of that smog!' We had no clue how to deal with that. We would run the street of Ostrava like madmen and we couldn´t imagine how to do that. Still, it wasn´t what we wanted. And in the end we would get quite angry. As we felt that people from the editorial office in Prague were just bossing us around doing nothing. So Herbert Slavík would get in a car, drove to the Northern Bohemia and he would take a photo of smog that was so good that all we could do was just stand there and stare. I still can see the composition: a chimney, a light fog and a bird flying across the sky at one point. The guy knew exactly where he had to stand and what to do to get such a result. And he was my boss. So I am still proud of it in a way.”

  • “Since I was twelve years old, I had the permanent pass to all Baník matches. It had been this sheet of paper with columns of numbers on the sides. On the one side it went from one to eight, and on the other side it would go from nine to sixteen. And after you would come to the stadium, they would tear off one of the numbers. Even then, I would go there just by myself. I can still recall all the buses and trams packed with old miners. And I used to like their humour so much, both harsh and clever. Back then, Bazaly stadium might have had about thirty thousand seats. And I would lover the smog during the summer as the whole stadium filled with men would start to cough. The atmosphere, that´s something you just can´t forget. Everyone would have a cigarette in his mouth, warm beer and cold sausages were being brought. And I would have this sense of belonging to my city. Baník has been a piece of our heart, a piece of ourselves.”

  • Full recordings
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    Ostrava, 01.03.2019

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    duration: 01:01:28
    media recorded in project Stories of the 20th Century TV
  • 6

    Ostrava, 15.02.2019

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    duration: 25:17
    media recorded in project Stories of the 20th Century TV
  • 7

    Ostrava, 15.02.2019

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    duration: 37:11
    media recorded in project Stories of the 20th Century TV
  • 8

    Ostrava, 15.02.2019

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    duration: 01:11:25
    media recorded in project Stories of the 20th Century TV
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I would never draw much attention. I would rather be silent, watching those human stories going on in the streets

Alexander Satinský was born on March 31st of 1963 in Ostrava. Growing up in the backyards of houses built in the social-realist style, he was captivated by the industrial city´s atmosphere and on his poetic walks through the city, he would feel free and unrestrained. He had been experiencing similar feelings while frequenting ice-hockey and also football matches between local clubs. After graduating from gymnasium, he decided not to go to college and he spend most of the 80s doing blue-collar jobs, working as a bricklayer or a turner at the Vítkovice rolling mills. At the same time, he he took photography lectures at the local People´s School of Arts taught by František Řezníček. While walking the streets of Ostrava, he would now capture the scenes he encountered on film. He got acquainted with the works of Viktor Kolář, Jindřich Štreit or Bohdan Holomíček, and took them as examples for his own work. In the early 90s, he began to work at the local Young Front Today (Mladá Fronta Dnes) daily editorial office. Due to that, he has been witnessing scores of important events in the region, such as the train-crash in Studénka or the arrival of refugees from Kosovo at the Mošnov airport.