Milota Havrankova (*1945) belongs to a first generation of Czechoslovak photographers with university education; she graduated from art photography from Prague’s FAMU at the end of 1960s. Her work is characterized by a variety of technological and thought processes and a very wide range of artistic disciplines used, from monumental and staged photography to experimental film and design.
Milota Havrankova entered the art scene during her studies. During that time of Czechoslovak photography, a young generation of photographers emerged who weren’t frightened to display a strong disrespect to the contemporary prevailing genres or formal traditions, or to socially or politically engaged topics. The photographical “new wave” with its surreally expressive and lyrically staged images was a terminological and expressive branch of the new wave of Czechoslovak cinematography. The photography also brought aspects of surrealism back to life, however the attempt to capture its imaginative potential was made in completely new conditions. Visual, literary, photographical or even film strategies could appear in photography in mutual symbiosis as photography’s technical reproduction potential set no limit to experimentation. And so at this time the author organically discovered the quality of the staged form, which she then transformed and visually appraised and uncovered the invisible logic of relationships and emotions in her spontaneous compositions. The key motivator of Milota Havrankova’s work is her desire to discover herself and her world through seemingly detached and objective technical methods. Her work process shows first and foremost her uncompromising stance on the question of artistic freedom.
The center of gravity of the “View from a Window” cycle is the author’s work in the hectic 1960s and 1970s, a time that the Czechoslovak society experienced not only euphoria but also a crushing skepticism and moral destruction due to the incoming normalization. In the background of these changes Milota Havrankova’s work crystallized. She oscillated between individual artistic freedom and political oppression. She found the base for her work in exploring her own truth from a fictitious reality. Its no coincidence her photographs became a visual part of the legendary student magazine The Echo of Bratislava University Students printed in 1964-1968 as one of the few publications critically and defiantly reflecting the contemporary sociopolitical and cultural happenings. Milota’s “View from a Window” showcases the clash of two realities, an inner and external one, and the subliminal and arbitrary infiltration of life’s authentic experience in a world of photo image filled with conscious truths, lies and hints.
Anna Vartecka, curator