Jan Vladislav was a Czech poet and translator. He became a “banned” author after 1948. He contributed to the founding of the “Kruh nezávislých spisovatelů” (Group of Independent Writers) in 1968 and became editor-in-chief of the Světová literatura (World Literature) magazine in 1969. However, in 1970 and 1971 he was stripped of all his functions and was restricted from publishing. He founded a samizdat edition called “Kvart” in the mid-1970s (more than 120 titles were published in this edition) and became one of the first to sign Charter 77. In 1981 he was forced to emigrate from Czechoslovakia and, thus, settled in France. He took part in the founding of the Czechoslovak Centre for Documentation of Independent Literature in Hannover in 1986. He then lived permanently in Prague after 2003 and was awarded the Order of Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk (1991), the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (1993), the PEN Club Lifetime Achievement Award (1998) and the State Award for Translation Work (2001).
- Praha, Prague, Czech Republic
- Sèvres, France
Gordana Vnuk graduated with a degree in English and comparative literature from the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in Zagreb; she is a dramaturge by profession and a member of the Croatian Association of Dramatic Artists (HDDU). She earned her master's degree on cultural policies from the University of Burgundy (Université de Bourgogne) in France. Her theatre engagement started in secondary school, in the 16th English Gymnasium, where she was a member of its drama group. During her first year at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, she became a member of the Coccolemocco theatre company, which at the time launched the festival Young People’s Theatre Days. Parallel to her work on the festival, she also participated in the theatre performances - One Day in the Life of Ignac Golob and in the recital You Don't Renounce What You Haven't Got! Later, Gordana Vnuk worked on films in international co-productions between Jadran Film and Hollywood production companies (MGM, Paramount Pictures, etc.). The money she had earned she invested in travel and watching performances throughout Europe, where a new generation of artists began to radically change the European theatrical landscape. The opportunity to show these innovations in Zagreb was the Universiade (World Student Games). She offered an already finished programme to the Steering Committee which thus became a part of cultural events during Universiade. That is how the first Eurokaz was held in 1987. For the next 30 years, Vnuk was its artistic director, and this theatrical engagement would mark her professional career, which also included her posts abroad: theatre programmer at the Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff (Wales, UK) as well as the position of the intendant of one of the largest cultural centres in Europe, Kampnagel in Hamburg (Germany). In 2013 she was made a Knight of the Order of Art and Letters (Chevalier de l’ordre des arts et des lettres) which is one of the highest French acknowledgments for public activity and contributions to the arts. Since 2009 she has lectured at the Academy of Dramatic Art in Zagreb.
In her social engagement Gordana Vnuk refused partisan and factious uniformity, she was fond of left-anarchism and the staunchness of the Praxis philosophy, and even today she does not see anything negative in early Marxism. Working in theatre she tried through her theatre company to influence society and affirm their views of the world: “one socialism, but with a human face in which goods are more justly distributed and in which people feel better" (Vnuk, interview, January 26, 2018).
For Gordana Vnuk, the cultural opposition is "every opposition against human stupidity, but primarily against mediocrity, regardless of the ideological affiliation. While in politics half-knowledge and half-talent, as measurable signs of mediocrity, bring benefits, and even against human stupidity, in culture these two signs work in favour of disagreement, in the sense that one group doesn't want to or doesn't know how to agree with the other one. In Croatia we lack a culture of (such) agreement more than disagreement. There is a quote (so dear to Branko Brezovec, the head of Coccolemocco) by the legendary Croatian theatre director Branko Gavella, who, in truth, was referring to literature, but it can be extended to culture in general: ‘I think that the unevenness of development is typical of small literatures, and not their quantitative backwardness.’ In theatre, everyone has been uptight about disagreeing with the prevailing politics; it would be better to agree, in the way a skilled poker player shuffles the deck: the stack on left and the stack on the right hand are merged into one deck. So the face of one card looks at the back of another. And the game begins" (Email to Lidija Bencetić, February 25, 2018).
- Zagreb, Croatia
Ondřej Vojtěchovsky, Czech historian and professor at Charles University in Prague, is a specialist in contemporary Yugoslav and Czech history, especially the post-war period. He completed his Doctoral dissertation on the topic of the Yugoslav Cominformist emigration in Prague. By virtue of his research, Vojtěchovsky met some of the members of the Yugoslav Cominformists in Prague, among them Ivan Sinanovič, who handed him over the collection of leaflets in 2011. These leaflets form now the Yugoslav Cominformists in Prague collection which is located in Vojtěchovský's apartment in Prague.
- Praha, Prague, Czech Republic
Anton Vovk was a Slovenian cleric, the (arch)bishop of Ljubljana. He was born in the same house as the famous Slovenian poet France Prešeren (1800-1849), because they were related through Vovk's grandmother. He attended Gymnasium in Kranj, and entered the seminary at Šentvid. He was ordained a priest in 1923. He served as chaplain in Metlika and Tržič. He became the pastor in Tržič. In 1940 he became a canon. Throughout the Second World War he presided over a committee tasked with helping priests who fled from the German-occupied part of Slovenia to the Ljubljana Province. In 1944 he became the rector of the seminary.
In June of 1945 he became the vicar of the Ljubljana Diocese, because Bishop Gregorij Rožman fled the country ahead of the takeover by the communist regime. On December 1, 1946, he was consecrated as auxiliary bishop of Ljubljana. He was attacked at the Novo mesto rail station on January 20, 1952, by communist activists, who poured gasoline on him and tried to set him on fire. Anton Vovk died on July 7, 1963.
Vovk's primary concern and job was to lead the Ljubljana (arch)diocese as a bishop (Pope John XXIII elevated the Ljubljana Diocese to an archdiocese on December 22, 1961). He was the creator or receiver of most of the archival materials contained in the Anton Vovk Collection. He considered the preservation of the collected records so important that he kept the existence of his own diary secret even from his closest collaborators. The communist regime saw him as an enemy, so an attack was prepared against him by pouring gasoline on him and burning him. Vovk himself did not publicly challenge the regime, except when he publicly preached Catholic teachings. The purpose of collecting the materials was to preserve them for the generations.
- Ljubljana , Slovenia
Ivan Vrona was born on September 29, 1887 in Otrocz, Chełm county in the Lublin guberniia of the Russian Empire. After spending two years in exile in Siberia for revolutionary activities, he studied law at Moscow University (1910-14) and art at Konstantin Yuon’s studio in Moscow (1912-14) and later at the Ukrainian Academy of Arts in Kyiv (1918-20). In 1918, he joined the Borotbist faction of the Ukrainian Party of Socialists Revolutionaries and in 1920 the Communist Party (Bolshevik) of Ukraine. In 1921, he was elected to the All-Ukrainian Central Executive Committee.
In the 1920s, Vrona helped organize the Kyiv Art Institute and served as its first rector. He also taught there in 1930-1933 and 1945-1948. He was a founder and leader of the Association of Revolutionary Art of Ukraine (ARMU), whose program he outlined in a publication titled The Art of the Revolution and ARMU in 1926. Vrona also served as director of the Kyiv Museum of Western and Eastern Art and chief inspector of art education for the People’s Commissariat of Education. His art criticism was published in the periodicals “Zhyttia I Revoliutsiia (“Life and Revolution”) and “Krytyka” (“Criticism”).
In 1933, Vrona was arrested and deported to a western Siberian labor camp. He was released in 1936 and rehabilitated in 1943. After being allowed to return to Ukraine in 1944, he became a research associate of the Institute of Fine Arts, Folklore, and Ethnography of the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR and wrote monographs on the artists Karpo Trokhymenko (1957), Mykhailo Derehus (1958), and Anatol Petrytsky (1968) as well as two chapters for volume 5 of the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR.