Photojournalism Now: Friday Round Up – 3 December 2021

This week on Photojournalism Now: Friday Round Up – I Am Warning You the new book from Rafal Milach. Plus check out this amazing virtual exhibition A Better Tomorrow Exhibition on Climate Change hosted by Drik Gallery in Bangladesh.

Review:

I Am Warning You – Rafal Milach

I’m never disappointed with books published by GOST Books, London, which is one of the most inventive photography book publishers. From the moment I opened the box to the new offering by Rafal Milach, I Am Warning You, I was intrigued. The publication is a book-triptych dedicated to three different border walls: Death Strip (The Berlin Wall) + I Am Warning You (Hungarian-Serbian-Croatian) + #13767 (American-Mexican). There is also a texts document.

HUNGARY. Gara 10.2019 Border fence at between Hungary and Serbia © Rafał Milach / Magnum Photos

The triptych book is “an architectural survey dedicated to propaganda and control whilst also collecting experiences—the memories and scars— of the borderland communities.” It is a complex work that is at once documentary and conceptual, and heavy with visual symbolism.

Designer Ania Nałęcka-Milach has used folds, layers, and inserts that create the space for interactive engagement. These reveals enhance the experience making what is a complex, and at times dense narrative, more accessible. It is only when you immerse yourself into the unique rhythm of each book, that the genius of Milach’s conceptual approach and the ingenuity in its presentation can be truly appreciated.

Death Strip © Rafał Milach / Magnum Photos

#13767 is the first book in the series and uses “censored US border wall mockup and prototype testing reports published in February 2018.” Into this report, Milach has inserted “a collection of objects which could potentially be used within prototype testing, intermixed with photographs focusing on the border architecture—its relationship with the landscape and its impact on the local communities living on both sides of the border.” 

#13767 © Rafał Milach / Magnum Photos

I Am Warning You surveys the 500km border fence built on the Hungarian-Serbian-Croatian border in 2015 by Viktor Orbán’s administration to keep migrants out. The title is drawn from an automatic message which is broadcast in several languages warning those approaching the fence. Here watch towers, concertina wires, and double layered three-metre-high metal fences split a landscape marked by agriculture, wilderness and national parks.

I Am Warning You © Rafał Milach / Magnum Photos

The final book is Death Strip named after “an area of land between the Eastern and Western side of the Berlin wall. As the presence of the wall is now mainly symbolic rather than physical, it is represented in the book by pieces of the wall purchased from the internet.” The folds in this book feature photographs of chunks of the wall on one side and the cost of the artefact on the reverse. It is a statement on contemporary values; some have paid enormous sums of money to own a piece of rock from a wall that is evidence of the trauma of others.

Mexico, Mexicali 11.2019 Construction of the new border wall between U.S. and Mexico. On February 23rd 2018, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office published The Final Report on Border Wall Mockup and Prototype Test. It presents, amongst other, various breaching and scaling tests of the eight future border wall prototypes proposed by Homeland Security in response to Donald Trump’s Executive Order #13767. The prototypes were nothing else, but a demonstration of power. They were not integrated into the new structure of the border wall that had been gradually replacing the old recycled Vietnam War helicopter landing panels. The project reflects upon the design of geographical and political division. It is dedicated to architecture of control and its impact on local landscape and urban structures.© Rafał Milach / Magnum Photos

Milach is a photographer, visual activist, educator and author of photography books. He is also a professor at the Krzysztof Kieślowski Film School in Katowice, Poland and an associate member of Magnum Photos. For the past decade Milach has focused his attention on the mechanisms of propaganda in “contemporary corrupt democracies and authoritarian regimes.” This is the latest fascinating iteration of that pursuit.

A book-triptych of Death Strip + #13767 + I Am Warning You
By Rafal Milach

Designed by Ania Nałęcka-Milach
210 x 265 mm, 288 pages (3 books of 68 / 76 / 144 pages)
Book-triptych with soft covers and exposed spines in a slipcase

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