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Rafal Milach 2018 Nominee Magnum Photos September 15, 2018

Posted by bohdan.warchomij in : Bird in Flight, Magnum, Metaphor Online , trackback

Rafal Milach from Black Sea of Concrete

“A key focal point of my current artistic practice is the clash between non-heroic gestures and ostensibly neutral spaces, which are in fact set against a political background of current events. The oppressive nature of the areas I investigate is reflected in architecture, objects, and suitably formatted social structures.”

- Rafal Milach

I first met Rafal Milach in Perpignan at Visa Pour L’Image circa 2005 when he was practising photojournalism and interested in conflict.

In 2004 he met Agnieszka Rayss and Jan Brykczynsk. Two years later they founded Sputnik Photos. They were all from central-eastern Europe and wanted to tell stories from the region they came from and could relate to. Another common denominator was the experience of transition from communism to so-called democracy. Milach and his cofounders somehow felt that their voice would be stronger as a group. After ten years of collaboration they have became one organism. Sputnik is handled from Warsaw, though they have international members, with photographers from Belarus, Slovakia and Czech Republic. About this time he became more interested in the art of resolution and in art per se. Both he and Sputnik have grown into an international force in photography. He has travelled on from the nostalgia of “Black Sea of Concrete”.

Rafal Milach on his development:

Rafal Milach

‘— I always thought that I started photographing late but now I think that was a perfect time. I was a student of graphic design at the Academy of Fine Arts. This is where I met a great teacher and photographer, Piotr Szymon, who assured me I had some photographic talent.

When I graduated from the Academy, I started working on personal projects. It was around this time I started to travel east. A majority of my family comes from what today is Belarus and Ukraine. I have some Russian roots as well, with some relatives living near Lake Baikal. In the beginning my background was very much a pretext to go there. I knew that I had relatives in Eastern Europe and Russia but till 2004 I wasn’t so interested in it. It came with the interest in photography. For me it was a good opportunity to go and experience something that was beyond the eastern border of Poland. On my first trip to Russia my ultimate goal was to meet my relatives but while there I got interested in the entire region.’

I was thinking about the idea of borders and how abstract and fragile they had become in recent years, especially for this region.

I started to work on Landmarks during heightened tensions between Russia and other Eastern European countries. After the annexation of Crimea and war in eastern Ukraine, the Baltic States seemed to be next target. Russia was reported to have been regularly violating the airspace of Baltic countries at the time. I started to think what the borders meant for Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. I was thinking about the idea of borders and how abstract and fragile they had become in recent years, especially for this region. Despite solid proof of their existence they can be easily removed, changed or simply ignored.’

Rafal Milach

Rafal Milach is a visual artist, photographer, and author of photo books. His work focuses on topics related to the transformation in the former Eastern Block. Graduate of the Academy of Fine Arts in Katowice, Poland, and the ITF Institute of Creative Photography of the Silesian University in Opava, Czech Republic (currently lecturer at ITF).

His award-winning photo books include The Winners, 7 Rooms, and The First March of Gentlemen. Rafal Milach has received scholarships from the Polish Minister of Culture and National Heritage, Magnum Foundation, and European Cultural Foundation. Finalist of the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize 2018 and winner of the World Press Photo competition. Co-founder of the Sputnik Photos collective.

His works have been widely exhibited in Poland and worldwide, and can be found in the collections of the Centre for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle in Warsaw, the ING Polish Art Foundation, Kiyosato, the Museum of Photographic Arts (Japan), and Brandts in Odense (Denmark).

Rafal Milach

Milach joined Magnum as a Nominee in 2018.

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