You might call Mr. Tichy (pronounced TEE-kee) an outsider artist if it weren’t for the inconvenient fact that he studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague and was for a time a celebrated painter. His photographs may look naïve, but they’re the product of a carefully orchestrated series of missteps that begins with crude, homemade cameras. As he says in the film, “If you want to be famous, you must do something more badly than anybody in the entire world.”
His photography is also much more subversive than Westerners might perceive. It exemplifies the nonviolent dissent perfected by Czech students and artists during and after the Soviet invasion of 1968, when the nurturing Prague Spring was followed by a crackdown on free expression.