Ladislav Bielik - August 1968: Bratislava
17 Nov 2008–30 Nov 2008
On 21 August 1968, Emil Gallo stood in front of the canon of a Soviet tank. The moment was captured by photographer Ladisav Bielik (1939–1984). The picture has been proclamed one of the 100 most important photos of the 20th century, and was part of the photo exhibition Ladislav Bielik – August 1968: Bratislava at the Nobel Peace Center.
2008 marked 40 years since the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. From January to August 1968 Czechoslovakia underwent major social upheavals as a result of the country’s economic crisis. A process of political liberalization was headed by Alexander Dubcek, first secretary of the Communist Party, as a reaction to the dire situation. As a result of Czechoslovakia’s liberalization and attempt at market socialism, the Soviet Union invaded the country on 21 August.
Ladislav Bielik’s photographs soon became central in the documentation of the Soviet invation in Czechoslovakia and the drama that took place in the streets of Bratislava. However, the picture called “The Bare-Chested Man i front of the Occupiers Tank” was printed numerous times without crediting Bielik. In recent years his family has re-established the copyrights.
The photo exhibition ended its international tour at the Nobel Peace Center in Oslo. It was previously shown in Bratislava, Athens, Berlin, Bern, Brussels, Helsinki, Copenhagen, Kiev, Levice, Munich, Moscow, Paris, St. Petersburg, Prague, Rome, Stockholm, Vienna and Warsaw.
The exhibition was opened by the President of the Norwegian Parliament, Thorbjørn Jagland. Ladislav Bielik’s son and Emil Gallo’s daughter were both present at the exhibition opening.
The project was a cooperation with the Slovakian Embassy in Norway and the Nobel Peace Center, and was supported by Fritt Ord.