AN ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF SPIRITUAL KINSHIP
(STYRSKY, Jindrich.) (MOUSSU, Annette) [i.e. Anna Fárová].
Jindřich Štyrský Fotograficke dilo 1934-1935.
[Prague]: Jazzpetit (Jazzová sekce), (1982).
8vo (219 × 159 mm), pp.. 100 black-and-white photographs, unattributed text; edges of text block a little dusty. Side-stapled into photo-illustrated wrappers, black, text in white; rubbed and lightly worn with handling creases. A very good copy.
First edition. Fotograficke dilo contains photographs taken by Styrsky in Paris and Prague between 1934 and 1935, whilst working on two projects, ‘The Man with blinkers on his eyes’ and ‘Frog Man’; a number of the pictures were also used in On the Needles of these Days (1945). It was put together by Anna Fárová, under her mother’s maiden name so as to distract the attention of the authorities. Fárová was one of the most important historians of Czechoslovakian photography and did much to establish photography as a fine art from her position at the Museum of Decorative Arts in Prague. However, after she became a signatory of Charter 77 in January 1977, she was placed on the Index of Forbidden Cultural Workers and was unable to officially work.
This book is one of a number of works published, somewhat clandestinely, by Jazzová sekce (Jazz Section), a group formed in 1971 as a special interest section within the Czechoslovak Musicians’ Union. In addition to organising concerts and events, they published 27 books between 1979 and 1986 under the ‘Jazzpetit’ imprint. These books covered a range of subjects that were not approved by the Communist authorities, including books on Surrealism, Dada, Living Theater, Bohumil Hrabal’s banned novel Obsluhoval jsem anglického krále (I Served the King of England), a John Lennon biography, and a two-volume dictionary of American rock musicians.
In the June/July 1991 issue of Creative Camera, Pavel Büchler wrote that ‘the contribution they made to the corporate knowledge of mankind was hardly indispensable. Yet they made a gesture of resistance and struggle which I pay respect to. Badly printed or mimeographed on fast yellowing paper, these books are monuments to a political attitude. They were published to challenge the neglect of the continuity of culture with life brought about on all living and dead by a popular submission to culture as a historical convention. They were published out of necessity, out of a sense of urgency: not to “break a silence”, but to speak clearly in the prattle of so many obedient voices, to act, to participate, to continue…
[Fotograficke dilo was published] at a time when Styrsky was seen by the then political establishment as an eccentric of a bygone era... It would seem that there was not much point in an “underground” publication, especially not in one which brings out the least controversial part of the artist’s work. Yet, for those who made it public, and those for whom it was published, the book was an act of appropriation, indeed an acknowledgement of spiritual kinship’.