© Jitka Hanzlová, 2022
In 1982 Jitka Hanzlová left the Socialist Republic of Czechoslovakia and emigrated to the Federal Republic of Germany. She would not be able to return to her country until 1990, one year after the collapse of the soviet regime. Her return to Rokytnik, a town in Bohemia, signified Hanzlová’s confrontation with a past that had remained frozen in time. In Rokytník she realized that the lives and landscapes of the region had to be preserved. This led to her decision to take on her first photographic project while completing her university degree in photography at the Folkwang School in Essen.
The series Rokytnik depicts the ambiguous sensation of familiarity and estrangement that the photographer experienced in her hometown, articulated over the course of several trips she took between 1990 and 1994. In her approach to a past that she had been deprived of by exile, Hanzlová portrayed the landscapes and inhabitants of her town, many of whom were her family and friends. The softness of the colors, the pale light, and the naturalness of her subjects, combined with the aesthetic of a rural town that lives within the timeframes and annual cycles of country life, grant the series a sense of melancholy and intimacy that distance it from documentary photography.