Secret Spy Photographs of Average Citizens in Prague

Unbeknownst to them, the citizens of Prague in the 1970's and 80's were being photographed by the secret police. Many of the elusively captured black and white photographs can now be found in a book aptly titled Prague Through the Lens of the Secret Police, as published by the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes. The intent of this classified operation was to keep an eye on average citizens and perhaps have the opportunity to catch someone in an illegal act. What started as a top secret observational mission has resulted in incredibly intriguing series of candid vignettes.

The monochromatic images, though taken quickly and stealthily in public spaces, exude a surprising artistic appeal. The covert agents, whose spy gear predated the convenience of digital photography, snapped these shots without really knowing what was going to appear on their rolls of film. While many of the shots emanate a creepy sense of being followed (because that's exactly what was happening), the images simultaneously capture a sense of life for the average citizen.

Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes website
via [PetaPixel, Vice]

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