Rafal Milach reflects on the images he has been making under Poland’s social distancing regulations, the pandemic’s effect on state controls, and the relationships between the visible and invisible.
This collection of images, taken inside a number of private and public institutions in Poland during the Covid-19 lockdown, is the negotiation between what we see and what we know. Cinemas, hotels, amusement parks, swimming pools, libraries, museums and schools have all been closed for several months due to the pandemic. The economic and political consequences of lockdown have affected and redefined the functionality of public spaces. The pandemic also increased the amount of control states exert over their citizens, which resonates all the more before the upcoming presidential elections in Poland this weekend.
One of the challenges with the visual representation of Covid-19 is (to me) about how to frame long term post-pandemic consequences in the pictures taken in a very dynamic and unpredictable environment that we, as the global society, have never experienced before on such a scale.
The pictures of empty interiors don’t offer spectacular or easily identifiable scenes. The architecture could have been photographed after working hours either pre- or post-pandemic. These images are transparent and in most cases deprived of visual representation of pandemic context. The tension between what’s visible or not makes this situation exciting. It can easily become a metaphor for the relationship between something very physical and familiar that is represented by the public’s use of architecture and the invisible virus that disrupts its status.