The First March of Gentlemen Special Edition

Rafal Milach


Second Edition
Published April 2018
Text by Maciej Pisuk, Rafal Milach, Karol Szymkowiak
Design by Rafal Milach & Ania Nacka-Milach
Limited to 100 special editions
Includes 2 signed and numbered Inkjet prints sized 14,5 x 12 cm
165 x 207 mm portrait format
72 pp, 48 illustrations
ISBN 978-1-910401-17-0

More about this special edition

In The First March of Gentlemen, Rafal Milach creates a fictitious narrative composed of authentic stories. He retells the historical childrens strike in Wrzenia in Poland from the early 20th Century, through collaged archive photographs from the 1950s and 1960. By blending these elements, he has created a new narrative, to be read as a playful metaphor for the political situation of the present. This project was created by the Deutsche Borse shortlisted photographer on the Kolekcja Wrzenia residency programme in 2016.

At the turn of the 20th century, when western Poland was under German occupation, over 100 students of the Catholic People’s School took part in a strike against the German influence on their education. When Milach’s residency in Września coincided with street demonstrations in Poland, he couldn’t ignore the correlation between past events and the present. As a result, the children’s strike forms the basis of this metaphorical tale, retold through images from the archive of Września photographer, Ryszard Szczepaniak taken in the 1950s and 1960s. Mid 20th Century Poland was an oppressive time to live during the communist regime, and the subjects of these photographs by Szczepaniak – young men, out of uniform, posing and having fun – were in many ways subversive.

Milach detached the figures from Szczepaniak’s photographs, both literally and figuratively, from their original context and placed them onto bright, candy-coloured backgrounds. The figures are caged in geometric shapes, which, as the book progresses, increasingly constrict and restrain them. The figures remain oblivious to the building claustrophobia and their imprisonment – an effective metaphor for the illusion of freedom. Ania Nałęcka-Milach, designer of the book, created the physical object to reference the size and colour palette of children’s school exercise books, a layer of camouflage to the serious subject matter.

Rafal Milach (b.1977) is a visual artist, photographer, author of photobooks. He graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Katowice, Poland and ITF in Opava, Czech Republic, where he currently lectures. For over 10 years, Rafał Milach has been working on transition issues in former Eastern Block countries and is Co-founder of the Sputnick Photos collective. He has earned worldwide recognition for his books – The Winners (published by GOST Books in 2014) and 7 Rooms. He has received grants from the Ministry of Culture, Magnum Foundation and the European Cultural Foundation and has won prestigious prizes, including the World Press Photo, Pictures of the Year International. His work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at C/O Berlin and Zachęta National Gallery of Art in Warsaw amongst others. Milach’s works are found in the collections of the Kiyosato Museum of Photographic Arts in Japan, Brandts in Odense (Denmark), CCA Ujazdowski Castle in Warsaw, ING Polish Art Foundation, Museum in Gliwice. Rafal has been shortlisted for the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize 2018, and his work will be exhibited at The Photographers’ Gallery London from February 2018.

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