Wenceslas Square looks both to the past and future


In a tent at the bottom of Wenceslas Square, a month-long project is has just got underway looking at the square both past and future. Prague’s main thoroughfare is set to be developed and changed in the coming years, with planners hoping to do away with the rather shabby image it has developed. The exhibition opened with a display of photographs by the renowned Czech photojournalist Vilém Kropp.

After working as a sports reporter, he eventually moved into photojournalism, which remained his profession from 1956 to 1980, which is the period covered by this exhibition of his works. He has also recently had a book of his pictures published. Among the photographs on display, were both intimate pictures of life in Prague and also sweeping panoramas of historical events, such as the Soviet Invasion of 1968.

Vilém Kropp, photo: CTK
Vilém Kropp was born in 1920 in Ostrava.

I managed to ask the 88 year-old Vilém Kropp for a few words during the opening of this exhibition. I began by asking him why Wenceslas Square seemed to play a role in so many of his photographs:

“I didn’t deliberately set out to photograph Wenceslas Square. I just photographed life as it happened around me. The vast majority of my photographs just happened during my life. Life, life and once again life! That is my domain, if you will.”

And did he ever have the sense as he carried out his work that he was in the midst of history?

“Of course, because these events suck you in and you can’t get away from that. Events like 1968 for example, are ones that profoundly affect you and especially those people that were directly involved in them.”

Other works and concepts will be displayed over the next month. The exhibition runs until October 17.

Photo: Vilém Kropp