In The First March of Gentlemen, Rafal Milach creates fictional narratives composed of authentic stories. He retells the historical children’s strike in Września, Poland, through collaged archival photographs from the 1950s and 1960s.
In the early 1900s, 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. The strike forms the basis of this Milach’s metaphorical tale, retold through images from the archive of Polish 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, and placed them onto bright, candy-colored backgrounds. The figures are caged in geometric shapes, which, as the book progresses, increasingly constrict and restrain them. The press release states, “The figures remain oblivious to the building claustrophobia and their imprisonment – an effective metaphor for the illusion of freedom”
This project was created by Milach during the Kolekcja Września residency program in 2016.
The First March of Gentlemen, is published by Gost Books.