The Samizdat series reflects on the intellectual dissident movements that emerged in Eastern Europe. It delves into the underground resistance that tried to circumvent censorship by publishing books, magazines and newspapers banned during Soviet hegemony. These were known as samizdat, a word of Russian origin that means self-published. They had a strong impact in all communist countries, particularly in Czechoslovakia, following the signing of the manifesto known as Charter 77.
The Helsinki Accords were signed in the 1970s by 35 countries, including the entire Eastern Bloc except for Albania. The pact was aimed at easing tensions between East and West, respecting territoriality, fundamental freedoms and avoiding future warlike hostilities. But this soon became a fleeting dream, due to the continued failure to respect human rights principles. In December 1976, the Czechoslovak government of Gustáv Husák imprisoned the members of the psychedelic rock band Plastic People of the Universe on the grounds of alleged disturbance of the peace. In addition to the tense atmosphere, this act of repression became a turning point that led to Charter 77, a manifesto signed by 241 people, comprised mainly of intellectuals opposed to the regime. It became the first public protest movement in Eastern Europe openly backed by its citizens.
The future president of the Czech Republic, writer and playwright Václav Havel, together with philosopher Jan Patočka, Pavel Kohout, Jiří Hájek, Jiří Němec and Zdeněk Mlynář, among others, were the spokespeople and driving forces behind the resistance movement, which was severely punished with numerous arrests and imprisonments. Most of its signatories were arrested, banned from writing and publishing, and relegated to jobs far removed from their intellectual activities. Due to severe reprisals by the secret police service, it became necessary to take the movement underground once again. It was more important than ever to keep intact the channels used to distribute free and independent information. It was in this context that samizdat emerged – a hidden organisational structure for the printing of banned books, free speech manuscripts and unofficial gazettes. Rudimentary techniques such as the use of multiple carbon paper copies when typing documents on a typewriter, were used. These techniques produced very few copies, which were passed person-to-person via an underground distribution network.
Year of the photographic work:
Number of works:
50 photographs and 4 sculptures and editorial pieces
Photographic work was undertaken with the support of:
Ministry of Culture and Sports of the Government of Spain
In collaboration with:
Bilbao Arte Foundation