Independent Writer, Researcher & Curator 
Spring Revolutions:
1968, A Tale of Two Cities

ATLAS Gallery, London
2 May - 14 June 2014

Assistant Curator

Ben Burdett, Gallery Director
Jim Edwards, Gallery Manager
In May 1968, two different European uprisings took place, photographed by two different photographers. This exhibition showcases the work of Magnum photographers Ian Berry and Bruno Barbey: Barbey, a Moroccan-born French photographer, captured uprisings in Paris, whilst British photographer Berry immortalised the Czech resistance.

What started as a predominantly bourgeoisie protest in Paris became one of the greatest societal upheavals since the French Revolution. Beginning as a student protest at Nanterre University, the civil unrest which engulfed Paris in May 1968 resulted in a general wildcat strike affecting 22% of the population and in the occupation of factories and universities across France.

At its height the protests nearly brought down the government of de Gaulle and brought a halt to the fabric of society for almost a month. Barbey’s recognisable photograph of a young student hurling a cobble-stone at police became a defining image of the time. He covered events for weeks in what became the most violent protest in a western capital since the Second World War.

Despite its origins, the protests in Paris were widely considered to be much more violent than those in Prague where Czechs fought Communist rule. In what became known as the Prague Spring, Czechoslovakia’s first secretary, Alexander Dubček, began a period of reform which gave way to outright civil protest, only ending when the USSR invaded the country in August of that year. Berry arrived in Prague on the same day as the Warsaw Pact tanks rolled in, the only foreign photographer present to capture the events of that day.

Berry photographed the arrival of the tanks and the unforgettable sights of young Czechs remonstrating with confused Russian soldiers, many from Asia, who had deliberately been kept in the dark about which country they were invading. For days he had nothing to eat and followed the protests from one part of the city to the next, dodging Russian snipers from street to street. He eventually escaped with rolls of film hidden in the hub-caps and headlights of his rental car. Berry’s work in Prague is regarded as one of the most important photo-historical records of these seismic events.

This is the first time works of both Ian Berry and Bruno Barbey are exhibited together.