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LOCKDOWN

Rafal Milach's photographs of public structures - devoid of crowds - during the Covid-19 crisis are a visual negotiation "between what we see and what we know"

Rafal Milach

Rafal Milach Poland, Wrecza 30.03.2020 3,2 km of water slides in the newly built Suntago is one of the biggest aquaprks in Europe. It was opened 23 days before the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic. 150 milion Eur (...)

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.

Rafal Milach Poland, Warsaw

03.04.2020

The biggest cinema in Warsaw closed due to the outbreak of COVID-19 epidemics. © Rafal Milach | Magnum Photos

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.

Rafal Milach Poland, Warsaw

03.04.2020

The biggest cinema in Warsaw closed due to the outbreak of COVID-19 epidemics. © Rafal Milach | Magnum Photos
Rafal Milach Poland, Warsaw 20.03.2020

Bacteria model in bilogy lab at the high school closed due to COVID-19 pandemic. Public schools were one of the very first insititutions to face coronavirus lockdown. © Rafal Milach | Magnum Photos
Rafal Milach Poland, Wrecza 30.03.2020 3,2 km of water slides in the newly built Suntago is one of the biggest aquaprks in Europe. It was opened 23 days before the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic. 150 milion Eur (...)
Rafal Milach Poland, Warsaw

03.04.2020

The biggest cinema in Warsaw closed due to the outbreak of COVID-19 epidemics. © Rafal Milach | Magnum Photos
Rafal Milach Poland, Wrecza 30.03.2020 3,2 km of water slides in the newly built Suntago is one of the biggest aquaprks in Europe. It was opened 23 days before the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic. 150 milion Eur (...)
Rafal Milach Poland, Warsaw 20.03.2020

Empty gym at the high school closed due to COVID-19 pandemic. Public schools were one of the very first insititutions to face coronavirus lockdown. © Rafal Milach | Magnum Photos
Rafal Milach Poland, Warsaw 30.04.2020 Installation of "The Penumbral Age. Art in the Time of Planetary Change" exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw hase been altered due to Covid-19 epidemics. Th (...)
Rafal Milach POLAND. Mszczonow. March 30, 2020. A sauna area at one of the biggest auquaparks in Europe. It opened just 2 weeks before the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Today the park is closed due to the pa (...)
Rafal Milach Poland, Wrecza 30.03.2020

Reception hall at the newly built Suntago is one of the biggest aquaprks in Europe. It was opened 23 days before the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic. © Rafal Milach | Magnum Photos
Rafal Milach Poland, Wrecza 30.03.2020

The newly built Suntago is one of the biggest aquaprks in Europe. It was opened 23 days before the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic. © Rafal Milach | Magnum Photos
Rafal Milach Poland, Wrecza 30.03.2020

Swimming pool area at the newly built Suntago is one of the biggest aquaprks in Europe. It was opened 23 days before the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic. © Rafal Milach | Magnum Photos
Rafal Milach Poland, Krokow 31.03.2020

Empty National Library reading hall. The Jagiellonian University was closed due to COVID-19 pandemic on March 10th. © Rafal Milach | Magnum Photos
Rafal Milach Poland, Jozefow 03.04.2020

Empty conference hall at the hotel at the outskirts of Warsaw. Traveling has been restricted and hotels were closed due to the outbreak of COVID-19 epidemics. © Rafal Milach | Magnum Photos
Rafal Milach Poland, Warsaw 20.03.2020

Performannce hall at the high school closed due to COVID-19 pandemic. Public schools were one of the very first insititutions to face coronavirus lockdown. © Rafal Milach | Magnum Photos
Rafal Milach Poland, Warsaw

03.04.2020

Reception desk at the biggest cinema in Warsaw closed due to the outbreak of COVID-19 epidemics. © Rafal Milach | Magnum Photos
Rafal Milach Poland, Warsaw 20.03.2020

Student's lockers at the high school closed due to COVID-19 pandemic. Public schools were one of the very first insititutions to face coronavirus lockdown. © Rafal Milach | Magnum Photos
Rafal Milach Poland, Warsaw 30.04.2020 Installation of "The Penumbral Age. Art in the Time of Planetary Change" exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw hase been altered due to Covid-19 epidemics. Th (...)
Rafal Milach Poland, Warsaw 30.04.2020 Installation of "The Penumbral Age. Art in the Time of Planetary Change" exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw hase been altered due to Covid-19 epidemics. Th (...)
Rafal Milach Poland, Wrecza 30.03.2020

The newly built Suntago is one of the biggest aquaprks in Europe. It was opened 23 days before the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic. © Rafal Milach | Magnum Photos
Rafal Milach Poland, Warsaw

03.04.2020

The biggest cinema in Warsaw closed due to the outbreak of COVID-19 epidemics. © Rafal Milach | Magnum Photos
Rafal Milach Poland, Jozefow 03.04.2020 Conference hall turned into a storage at the hotel at the outskirts of Warsaw. Traveling has been restricted and hotels were closed due to the outbreak of COVID-19 epid (...)
Rafal Milach Poland, Warsaw

03.04.2020

Shopping mall closed due to the outbreak of COVID-19 epidemics. © Rafal Milach | Magnum Photos