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Roads to Freedom

CZECH CENTER NEW YORK presents Samizdat: The Czech Art of Resistance, 1968–1989, an exhibition of underground publications, film, and music.

Samizdat: The Czech Art of Resistance presents 120 rarely seen handmade books, journals, and other original works on paper that circulated secretly during the years between the Prague Spring and the Velvet Revolution. The multimedia exhibition also includes period footage of underground concerts and bootleg recordings of banned Czech bands.

 Literally meaning “self-published,” samizdat is a Russian term referring to underground publications that flourished in the USSR and Soviet bloc under repressive communist rule. Copies of an essay, a book, a series of poems, or articles were generated in small batches, most commonly using a typewriter with carbon paper or a small printing press. Blending political dissidence with esthetic innovation, samizdat was passed from person to person through clandestine networks.

 Creating and disseminating ideas or art—even if non-political—that did not conform to official ideology was considered to be an act against the state. This could, and did, lead to imprisonment for many of those found to be participating in this “unofficial culture.” Samizdat explores how these seemingly small acts of opposition played a crucial role in resisting the totalitarian regime in Czechoslovakia, which was eventually displaced by the leaders of underground culture—including such producers of samizdat as writer and first president of Czechoslovakia, Václav Havel.

Samizdat: The Czech Art of Resistance was organized by Czech Center NY and curated by Daniela Sneppova. It is part of Roads to Freedom: Czech Alternative Culture before 1989, a series of events celebrating the Czech holiday Struggle for Freedom and Democracy Day (Den boje za svobodu a demokracii)Roads to Freedom also includes a two-day symposium on samizdat presented in conjunction with New York University Prague; a concert by seminal Czech underground band Garage (Garáž); a Velvet Revolution party; and screenings of two underground films (see below for further information).


Roads to Freedom
Czech Alternative Culture before 1989
November 2012

Samizdat: The Czech Art of Resistance, 1968–1989
Gallery of the Czech Center New York, November 10, 2011–January 12, 2012
Exhibition of underground publications, film, and music
Exhibition opening: Thursday, November 10, 6:30pm-8:30pm
Czechoslovak Samizdat

Bohemian National Hall, November 10–11
Symposium organized by Czech Center NY in collaboration with New York University Prague
Samizdat events are organized under the auspices of Václav Havel

Bohemian National Hall, November 17, 8pm
Czech underground band Garage (Garáž) plays

Velvet Revolution Party
LAVO, 39 E 58th Street, November 18, 7:30pm
Organized by the Czech and Slovak Consulates General, Czech Center NY, and +421 Foundation.

The Film Club of Czech Center NY presents “Films From the Safe”

The Ear, Karel Kachyna, 1970
A senior Communist official and his wife discover that their house is riddled with listening devices planted by his own ministry.
Bohemian National Hall, November 8 , 7pm

Larks on a String,
Jiri Menzel, 1969
An odd assortment of bourgeoisie and female prisoners are “re-educated” by working in a junkyard in this comedy set in the late 1940s
Bohemian National Hall, November 22, 7pm


CZECH CENTER NEW YORK at the Bohemian National Hall
321 East 73rd Street, New York, NY 10021


Press contacts:

Adam Husted  adamhmedia@gmail.com
Jan Zahour  zahour @czechcenter.com


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Samizdat Symposium - Program