The First Tankman

[person_by] Frank van der Stok

December 2019

1968 was an important year for counterculture; Parisian student protests, The Prague Spring, the assassination of human rights activist Martin Luther King, the Vietnam War Protests, and the rise of Flower Power. This photograph shows a historical precedent ofthe Tank Man. Everyone knows the photo of the student uprising in Beijing in 1989, but hardly anyone knows the one of Bratislava, 1968. Both express a similarly universal self-sacrifice; the readiness to die for the good cause. On 21 August 1968 Russian tanks entered Czechoslovakia, entering Prague as well as Bratislava. Plumber Emil Gallo posted himself before a T-55 tank and shouted: ”Shoot!”.

Frank van der Stok
Frank van der Stok (b. 1967) is a curator, editor, essayist and intermediary for artists and art institutions. He also works as an editor and producer of artists’ books.


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