Daniela Mrázková and Revue fotografie

By Eva Pluhařová-Grigienė Posted December 2, 2013

Cover of Revue Fotografie, issue 1, 1975. This is the cover of the first issue of Revue Fotografie, which focusses on war-time photoreportage and prominently features Russian photography from World War II together with pictures from the 1960s and 70s war zones: Cyprus, Vietnam and Ireland.  

Medium revue fotografie

From 1971 to 1977, Daniela Mrázková served as editor-in-chief of Revue fotografie (Photography Revue), one of the most influential photo magazines in the communist bloc. However, her career started coincidentally: as a child of a former political prisoner, she was only allowed to study Russian at an Open University. But because she had to be employed to be accepted, she started working at Revue fotografie, which introduced a Russian edition in 1959.

In 1962 Mrázková joined the editorial office. “It was during the first half of the 1960s when things began to change in this communist country,“ Mrázková remembers. “Photography was one of the tools of this change.“ Under her direction the magazine no longer published amateur photographs; next to presenting Czech and other Eastern European photography, it also informed about international photography from the USA, Japan, or Western Europe, and established contacts to photo magazines abroad. RF also showed a wide range of phtoography, including art, press, documentary, fashion, and society photography, as well as nudes with high quality texts and images.

With its broad reach, the RF served as a desirable international platform for Soviet photographers especially. Mrázková and her husband, filmmaker and publicist Vladímir Remeš, traveled to Moscow frequently. As Mrázková recalls, during their first visits she met photographers usually at the office of Marina Bugaeva, the editor in chief of the magazine Sovetskoe Foto (Soviet Photo). Later the photographers visited Mrázková in her hotel room to show her “’other’ pictures, which were not published because they depicted people´s suffering, shabby people, unhappiness or undesirable things like that.“

On these journeys Remeš and Mrázková gathered information on Russian avant-garde photographers that in the early 1970s were still rejected as `formalist´, on Soviet war photography and on contemporary non-conformist trends. Back home the RF featured a series of picture reports with Russian avant-garde photographs that had not been seen since the inter-war period. Furthermore in 1975 Mrázková published a book on Soviet war photographers (Fotografovali válku: sovětská válečná reportáž ) with pictures that beyond the stereotypical heroic imagery evoked the hardships of the Second World War.

After the event of the Charta 77, an informal civic intiative that criticized the socialist state, the situation of relative freedom for the publication on photography in Czechoslovakia changed. Having left RF in 1977 Mrázková was banned from publishing at home. Nevertheless, she still managed to use her contacts abroad to provide information about the cultural situation of late state socialism and to promote Czech and Soviet photographers internationally through articles and books. 

Notes

 "Giving a voice to the other Russia. Daniela Mrázková in conversation with Jörg Jung, Prague 2009," in: Dewitz, Bodo von (ed.): Political Images. Soviet Photographs. The Daniela Mrázková Collection. Museum Ludwig Köln. Göttingen 2009: 27-32.

Eva Pluhařová-Grigienė is a post-doctoral research fellow at the Institute of Art and Visual History of the Humboldt University Berlin. Her research areas include the visual culture and history of art of Eastern Europe, with a special interest in photography in late state socialism, and transnational artistic exchange.