Opening Friday 8th December 2017
h. 7 pm
8.12 – 13.01.2018
text by Elena Vaninetti
“The First March of Gentlemen” is the title of the recent book by Polish artist Rafal Milach, made in occasion of Kolekcja Wrzesińska artistic residency. The work starts from a research carried out on the past of the city and the discovery of Ryszard Szczepaniak’s photography archive, who in the 1950s portrayed part of the local population. Milach is fascinated mainly by the images of young men, both civil and military, recognizing in their behavior abnormal attitudes: well-dressed in suits, proud and austere like gentlemen standing with self-satisfied ease; they seemed overtly oblivious to or dismissive of the tumult of Communism and strict government control gripping the nation. But the work of the artist is not limited to the collection and reuse of this material, Milach relies directly on a historical fact that marked the city, the strike of primary school students in 1901, where for 4 years children and parents rises against the imposition of studying exclusively in German language. The result is a “playful” imagery in which the figures of these gentlemen intertwine in surreal scenarios, made of geometrical shapes, bright colors, all clear references to infant education, which tell stories through simple yet overwhelming symbolisms such as in children’s drawings. It is also a formally abstract commentary on the current Polish situation, which can easily be referred to other places as well.
The collage series is a type of utopian space where citizens express their fears and desires publicly. Regardless of the possible consequences, they are active. Images contain both the idea of freedom and the oppressive apparatus. Within the exhibition, this powerful dualism is found, the gallery space is used as the pages of the book, exploiting various operations and supports to clearly return the dual reading level. Red-colored walls are ready to become a white canvas on which images can live and overlap. We find the same shapes, grids and symbols in the book, which even though we do not fully understand, clearly remind us of the echo of universal ideas. A kind of civic education lesson, whose primary concept is that every citizen has rights and duties that are indispensable.
Photographer and book artist based in Warsaw, Poland. He graduated from Academy of Fine Arts in Katowice, Poland and Institute for Creative Photography in Opava, Czech Republic where he currently lectures. For more than 10 years he has been working on transition issues in Russian speaking countries and CEE region. This work resulted with the monographs “The Winners” (GOST 2014), “7 Rooms” (Kehrer 2011) and “Black Sea of Concrete” (self-published 2013). In 2012 Czytelnia Sztuki Gallery published the book “In the Car with R” the record of Rafal’s travel with writer Huldar Breidfjord around Iceland. Rafal’s work has been exhibited in C/O Berlin, Zacheta National Gallery of Art and MoCA Shanghai. He received grants from Magnum Foundation, Polish Ministry of Culture and European Cultural Foundation. Rafal’s pictures and books have been awarded with World Press Photo and Pictures of the Year International. Works in collections of Centre for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle in Warsaw, ING Polish Art Foundation, Kiyosato Museum of Photographic Arts in Japan, Brandts Museum for Kunst & Visuel Kultur and C/O Berlin. Rafal is a founding member of Sputnik Photos collective.
Wed-Sat 10-13 16-19
Via XX settembre 67, 37129, Verona