If you happened to visit the Czech Republic last Saturday during the EU Open House, you may have seen a few cases with books and other odd items inside, unmarked and unexplained. Those actually belong to an art show called Samizdat: The Czech Art of Resistance 1968-1989, which opened on Tuesday at the Embassy of the Czech Republic
Samizdat means “self-published.” A Russian term, it refers to any underground publication banned during Communist rule in the USSR and Soviet bloc. It includes essays, books, art, and poems. From Sex Pistols lyrics to indie rock, it was all illegal.
The exhibit is part of a broader project at the embassy called Freedom of Expression in the Contemporary World that focuses on the fight for democracy and freedom in modern-day Burma, Belarus, and Cuba.
I recently reviewed the show and encourage anyone interested in art, activism, or Eastern Europe to check it out. Visits are by appointment only, but the staff is extremely friendly and will provide you with a guide to the exhibit if you ask.
Samizdat: The Czech Art of Resistance 1968-1989 runs through June 8 at the Embassy of the Czech Republic. Address: 3900 Spring of Freedom Street, NW, Washington, DC 20008. Nearest Metro: Cleveland Park and Van Ness (both Red). Open Monday-Thursday 10 am-4pm and Friday (10 am to 2 pm). Call 202/274-9105 to schedule an appointment and ask for the exhibit guide.