A tableau for Václav Havel

Vaclav Havel

Tjebbe van Tijen presents a montage of graffiti and photographs in honour of Václav Havel

Václav Havel died on December 18 this year: he lived from 1936 till 2011. The tableau is in his honour. It shows: a wall graffiti in Prague (probably 1979) "Havel behind bars" (he spent his longest time in prison as a dissident under the Czech Communist Regime from 1979 to 1984); Havel, photographed during a concert of the Czech underground rock band the Plastic People of the Universe, whose persecution led - among other incidents - to the founding of the Charta 77 human rights group, and a demonstration in Prague in December 1989 demanding that Václav Havel be nominated president.

Vaclav Havel Image credit: Tjebbe van Tijen. All Rights Reserved.

The poor image quality expresses my own personal contacts with Czech dissidents; we carried out for instance a support action for several Czech rock groups that were persecuted, including the ‘Plastic People of the Universe’... Havel was going to open our big demonstration ‘Europe Against the Current’ in September 1989 in Amsterdam... but being under house arrest he had to open the demonstration over the telephone....

Czech samizdat was produced in the most low tech way, by hammering out manuscripts using carbon paper and producing at most 10 copies at the time... it was all primitive beyond belief, even at the end of the eighties...

 

 

About the author

Tjebbe van Tijen was curator of the department for the documentation of “modern social movements” at the University of Amsterdam and in the International Institute of Social History.

He works as a multi-media artist under the name Imaginary Museum, making interactive installations to dramatise history. He now works for the School of Creative Media at the City University of Hong Kong developing a visual narrative education system'.