An exhibition in Bologna, Italy, brings together his panoramic images of industry
Josef Koudelka started using a camera in panoramic format in 1986 while participating in the multi-photographer mission set by the Land Development and Regional Action Delegation, more commonly known as DATAR, whose objective was to “represent the French landscape of the 1980s”. He thus crisscrossed France, then the entire world, to take stock of modern humanity’s influence on landscape.
This exhibition gathers 30 panoramic photographs selected by the artist with in conjunction with François Hébel. These images bear witness to major human works, ranging from factories to quarries, enormous mining complexes, and abandoned zones. They carry the viewer into inaccessible and little-known area that exist between the sublime and disarray, to witness the imposing reality of industry that we now try to erase.
Josef Koudelka (b. 1938) was born in Moravia where he started his career as an aeronautical engineer in 1961. Meanwhile, he began photographing the Roma and Sinti community in Czechoslovakia, and the theater in Prague. Koudelka photographed the Soviet invasion of Prague – images of which he published under the initials P. P. (Prague Photographer) for fear of reprisal from the Communist authorities. In 1969 he was unanimously awarded the Overseas Press Club’s Robert Capa Gold Medal for those photographs. He left Czechoslovakia for political asylum in 1970.
Koudelka has had more than a dozen books published, including: Gypsies (1975), Exiles (1988), Chaos (1999), and Invasion Prague 68 (2008).
The exhibition “Koudelka Industries” was created by François Hébel for Foto/Industria 2017, Biennial of Photography on Industry and Work, Bologna, Italy, a project promoted and supported by Fondazione MAST.