During a trip home for Christmas of 1987, my younger brother Bobby confided to me that he had tested positive for HIV. By the end of the following January he was struck with his first bout of pneumonia, and it was clear to him and to the rest of the family that he was indeed suffering from AIDS. Once he recovered from the pneumonia, he started on AZT, and his T-cell counts began to recover. As he began to regain his health, one of the first things he did was to start planning a trip to Europe, over the obvious concerns of the rest of us. He was determined, though, and would not be denied.
One of the places that Bobby was eager to visit was Prague, which was at that time behind the Iron Curtain in Czechoslovakia. Although to me this sounded very complicated and unlikely, Bobby was very resourceful about this sort of thing, and somehow got the necessary visas. My memory is hazy on the exact logistics, but I believe he somehow rented a car and visited on his own, rather than as part of any sort of group.
In any event, shortly after he entered Czechoslovakia, he discovered that he had no film for his camera. After some searching around Prague, he managed to secure a couple rolls of 35mm black-and-white film, which we nicknamed his “communist film”. Everything about the film was odd… the cans it came in, the way it fit into the camera, the color of the undeveloped film itself. When he got the pictures developed, the resulting prints had a very unique quality, looking almost painted.
As I was going through a box of old photos, I came across the negatives from the “communist film”. I took them to Rayko in San Francisco, with the idea of making some prints to hang in my office. The guys at Rayko scanned the negatives, marveled at how unusual they were, and made some prints. The results are pretty unique and kind of cool, so I thought I would post the scans here. Click on the pictures for a better view of the unique grain to the film. I hope you enjoy them!