New gallery dedicated to documentary photography opens in Prague
A new gallery dedicated to documentary photography has opened in Prague’s Smíchov district. It was established by the 400 ASA association, which brings together seven distinguished Czech photographers, including Antonín Kratochvíl, Tomki Němec, Karel Cudlín and Alžběta Jungrová. The new gallery is located in a former electrical transformer station from the 1920s.
The 400 ASA Gallery is located just a few minutes’ walk from the Anděl metro station, slightly hidden by the nearby buildings. It was initiated by photographers from 400 ASA association, who, despite having their own individual style, all seek to continue and develop the tradition of Czech documentary photography.
One of them is Jan Mihaliček, who started his career before the Velvet Revolution and has documented such events as the withdrawal of Soviet Army troops from Czechoslovakia and the war in Yugoslavia.
“We are all friends and we like documentary photography, which brought us all together. Documentary photography, mainly black and white, may be regarded as old-fashioned by some people, but for us it is a modern medium.
“We established our group two years ago. We first organised joint exhibitions, but we knew from the beginning that we needed a place where we could present our work permanently.”
They found that space in an unused building, a former transformer station from the 1920s, built in the style of Rondo-Cubism, which is today listed as a national technical heritage site:
“The transformer ceased to operate at the beginning of the 20th century and after that it started to fall into disrepair. There was an architectural studio for a while, but then it stood empty.
“We discovered the building maybe three years ago as a free space and we immediately though of building a gallery here.”
After a postponement caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the gallery opened last Friday with a special fundraising exhibition, featuring one photograph from each member of 400 ASA.
The proceeds from the sale will go a foundation established by journalist Nora Fridrichová that supports single parents.
In the future, the gallery plans to showcase regular exhibitions of the group’s members, but also the work of foreign and local photographers:
“The next exhibition will take place within one or two weeks, and it will present the photographs by Martin Wágner, one of our members. It will be connected to his book Siberia, which came out just this year.
“The second exhibition will showcase Andrej Bán, a documentary photographer from Slovakia, who has been mapping the Central European region for the past two decades. So that will also be interesting.”
Although the new gallery will serve primarily as an exhibition space, its founders hope it will also become a public meeting place and venue for photography lectures, workshops and meetings.
There is also a small café and a bookshop, where visitors can view and purchase prints and publications from the 400 ASA photographers.