The Year Behind Us: Czech Press Photo Exhibit 2021

Petr Topič, Mafra, a.s.

by Maddie Jacobson–Anglo-American University

A mixture of strong emotions is immediately felt upon stepping into the Czech Press Photo exhibit at the National Museum. Surrounded by images capturing the upending world events of the last year, sadness, joy, loss, and unity are simultaneously evoked.

The Czech Press Photo exhibit, open till October 31st, 2022, displays the winners of the Czech Press Photo competition along with other notable submissions.

Located centrally at the National Museum in Prague’s Wenceslas Square, this exhibit is a must-see for everyone, from documentary photography aficionados to those who simply want to view the events of the past year from a different perspective.

The Czech Press Photo Competition is currently in its 27th year, and it highlights Czech and Slovak photographers who are capturing everyday life and notable events in the Czech Republic and around the world. This is the second time that the National Museum has hosted this exhibition.

The exhibition displays notable submissions from the 2021 competition, the winner of the Photo of the Year along with winners of the subcategories.

The Photo of the Year was shot by Petr Topic with the title “Destruction.” It depicts a young man standing with his head in his hands, surrounded by rubble and the foundations of his destroyed home.

The photo captures the personal pain caused by the sudden and destructive tornado in Mikulcice, Moravia on June 24 th .

The exhibit has sections by themes and world events. Significant emphasis is placed on Covid-19, particularly at the entrance, as its impact is far-reaching, therefore still deserving our attention. At the entrance, a photograph by Lukas Biba, depicts a doctor treating a sick patient in a hospital bed.

Lukáš Bíba, Economia

The photo is taken from outside of the room. This series by Biba also includes an image of the Beatles song “Let it Be,” and in the background, out of focus, is a Covid patient in a hospital bed.

In a series with a different perspective related to Covid-19, there are photographs of patients taking Covid tests. The images, titled “Testing,” were taken by Richard Domos. It includes portraits of individuals receiving nasal swab tests, while making comical faces. Matched with so many of the sadder images depicting the Covid pandemic, this comic relief is necessary.

Everyone can recall taking uncomfortable nasal swab Covid tests, and seeing this in a humorous light is a reminder that experiencing the pandemic was a universal, and almost unifying experience.

Other events captured in the exhibit include Summer 2021 Olympics in Tokyo, a newly opened circus, anti-mask and vaccine mandate protests, the 55th Karlovy Vary film festival, and clashes between police and street gangs. While Covid did take up a significant portion of the exhibit, other themes were covered in order to give a fuller picture of what 2021 looked like around the world.

Michal Sváček, MAFRA, a. s.

Overall, the Czech Press Photo Exhibit is emotionally impactful and reminds us of the events we have endured together. However, its display of some of these dark times is not gratuitous, and it is done with respect. It also is coupled with images of positive moments throughout the year.

For those visiting Prague for a few days or long-term residents, the Czech Press Photo Exhibit truly is a must-see.

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