DOX Centre for Contemporary Art presents an exhibition of photographs by Alžběta Jungrová called Blue Light Tonite. The exhibition at DOX presents a selection of 24 photographs from the total number of 57 published in the book with the same name.
The title of this exhibition of photographs and the recently published book is taken from the text message “BL TONITE?”, which used to be popular with regulars at the Blue Light bar in Prague. The project has resulted in a series of photographs of these people, some of them well known, others less so. The pictures document the magical atmosphere of this bar in the Lesser Quarter, where visitors have scratched their names into the brown walls and ceilings for the last two decades.
Initially the photographs were documentary, but one time Jiří Macháček erected a structure made out of barstools on the bar, and then lay down on it and started licking the light bulb hanging over the bar. For the authors of the project – architect Vít Máslo and a photographer Alžběta Jungrová - that was a sign to start making the portraits more stylised, sometimes dressing the subjects up in costumes and using make up. The result is a diverse mixture of portraits of people who have intersected in the time and space of this bar in Prague. Stories lie behind some of the photographs, while others are based on the atmosphere or magic of the moment.
“The original idea was to take studio portraits of several dozen friends and acquaintances we meet in the bar, but that was soon abandoned in favour of photographing everything at the Blue Light with no extra lighting and mostly in the afternoon, before the bar opened. A list of people to be portrayed was quickly drawn up, but over time it was altered. For a variety of reasons we didn’t photograph many of those we’d initially included on the “Blue List”, and we added other people we hadn’t originally counted on,“ explains Vít Máslo, co-author of the project.
There were also many people who would have been part of the selection, but the authors weren’t able to photograph them – such as the Romanian flower woman who’s been selling flowers in the bar, the Prague restaurant owner Nils Jebens, the actor Jiří Langmajer, Glen Emery – the Prague-based Canadian author of “Thirsty Dogs” or Janka Kellerová. And eventually the authors had to stop taking pictures. When making the selection it was important that Alžběta and Vít agreed on the person portrayed. So you can find Pepa the dustman, who’s been carrying trash out of the bar for the last fifteen years, alongside the Czech Foreign Minister, Karel Schwarzenberg. Several people collaborated on this project, from the owner of the Blue Light bar, Franta Ludačka to Ivan Zachariáš or Aleš Najbrt, who gave the project its graphic look.
Alžběta Jungrová’s interest in the stories of people’s lives has led her to documentary and reportage photography. She travels all over the world in order to find non-traditional subjects. She has waded through the largest dump heap in Cambodia and through oil mud of the ship-breaking yard in Chittagong, Bangladesh; she has taken photographs of armed children and civilians in the Gaza Strip and junkies on the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, and spent days with the Nukak tribe in the Colombian jungle.
Alžběta Jungrová was awarded a honorary prize at the Czech Press Photo competition in 2008 for her reportage about drugs on the Pakistani-Afghan border, and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Prize for a series of photographs of children working in a brick factory in Peshawar, Pakistan. She received the prize again in 2009 for a series of photographs from a Burmese refugee camp in Bangladesh.
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Programs to the exhibitions usually take place on Mondays and Thursdays.