Afganistan jest w nas


Afganistan jest w nas

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Maksymilian Rigamonti was in Afghanistan five times. The effect is a unique pictorial account of the Polish ISAF mission. His pictures are like cracks in the wall through which we can take a propaganda-free look at war. Each picture shows what its author saw. Rigamonti’s camera focuses on details which the media do not show. Rigamonti’s true-to-life account of the human costs of a military adventure on the fringes of the world poses questions about the sense in such operations. 

Agnieszka Zawadowska

Copyright: Maksymilian Rigamonti
Title: Afganistan jest w nas / Afghanistan inside us
Publisher: Press Club Polska
68 Photographs + 1 print
Text: Eva Rubinstein, Paweł Reszka, Jan Grarup, Agnieszka Zawadowska, Jarosław Włodarczyk, oficer XIII zmiany PKW Afganistan, Maksymilian Rigamonti
Design: Rafał Benedek
Język: Polski / Language: English
Translation: Grzegorz Lewicki
Korekta: Iwona Maciszewska / Proofreading: Maciej Bańkowski
Print: Argraf
Size: 16 x 22 cm
160 Pages
Printrun:  600 manually numbered copies
Date of issue: December 2013
ISBN: 978-83-64092-01-5
1st issue

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The title of his book was placed on the cover in form of a badge, similar the same like those with the names and insignia are placed on the uniforms of Polish soldiers.
Tytuł książki na okładce został umieszczony na naszywce mocowanej na rzep, podobnie jak naszywki z nazwiskami i dystynkcjami są umieszczane na mundurach polskich żołnierzy. 

The cover was chosen as one of the best book covers by in the year 2014 .
Okładka wybrana jako jedna z najlepszych publikacji książkowych przez portal w 2014 roku.

Paweł Reszka:

This place brings bad memories to my mind. A flashback of my friend, a reporter, being loaded on an armoured carrier. It is a very technical activity. The corpse is collected from the dust, then placed on the armour. The machine budges. Then it gains speed. His head starts to wobble sideways, his corpse moves, it wants to slide down, run away.
Then one has to react. Touch him, hold him. One cannot turn one’s gaze away. Finally, one meets his eyes. They are empty, fishy.

What was this for?

Never in my life have I asked this question to myself. And back then? Then I had only realized that the very fact you are an observer and, thus, someone who wants to stay aside does not ensure any immunity from death. Constant mumbling “damn it, it is not my war”, attaching “Press” sticker to the bulletproof vest, arranging accreditation and a nice passport with EU letters on it do not mean anything at all.
You’re immersed in all this anyway.
You may simply do not have good luck.
In fact „your” probability calculus may fulfill itself: things already went well nine times, so the tenth time, mathematically speaking, they should not go well.
I do not know what is the capacity of my own probability calculus, but people say you may sense it.
I wonder whether this man there felt he is fulfilling his own limit. Probably? After all, he has been reporting about wars from the times of Upper Karabakh on. He has had lot of luck already.
I am looking at him again. A few or a dozen of hours ago he was telling a joke, giving advice and jesting about my accent.

Now, covered with dust, inert, objectified, his mouth parted. Dead.

It is very unfair that among all the corpses of soldiers and civilians, men and women, adults and children, those massacred and those looking as if they were blissfully asleep – I am most attracted by this one. A corpse of a reporter.
To look from this perspective is the worst thing to do.
You know, after all we were not wanted here. We are not the characters of this story. We will leave this place sooner or later: I will leave traditionally and he will leave as a cargo in a black pouch. The others will stay.
But it is hard to fight this.
I will tear my gaze away from his empty eyes to see the dusty road. Down there, at the foot of a hill there will be a truck waiting. It will take the corpse further, towards the airport.
The soldiers of the Northern Alliance are cheerful, they are rejoicing and waving hands in our direction.
Delighted with another victory over Taliban, which brings them closer to the suburbs of Kabul. In their joy they will not see that the journalist funeral procession is passing next to them
Anyway, how meaningful is this single corpse? Our weird feelings would be hard to explain to these people, who have been warring against the outsiders as well as one another for many decades.
After such a long time of watching and inflicting death one exercises proficiency , a kind of automatism.
Look at how they hold their Kalashnikovs. For them, they are like a prolongation of an arm, like the third, inseparable limb.
Look at how accurately they shoot, how awfully they treat their hostages, how they treat compassion as weakness.
The whole generations do not remember normal life.
What can be changed by even the best reportages? Most shocking pictures?
Will they hold someone off? Maybe they will stimulate some anger or tears – so what?
On packing my backpack once again, I will be asked by my little son:

– Why are you going there?
– Someone has to – I will grunt, knowing I do not have answer to this question.
– So when will you return? – he will ask again.

This time I will answer with silence, although I know the answer.
One cannot return from these places for good.

Eric Gunderson from The New Frame.

(...) I want to start by saying, I'm never really been interested in war photography. In the past I've seen it as another form of propaganda. Something used to glorify war, and encourage participation and support for the military. I was wrong, and this book helped me realise it.

Since receiving it, I've flipped through it a number of times. I picked it up, put it down and eventually picked it up again only to be distracted by something and put it down again. Today, I finally sat down, put away my distractions and read through it properly. It opened my eyes. Not to what war is. I never in any way thought lightly of war. I never presumed to think people over there fighting the good fight, had it easy. But it opened my eyes to how important the role of war photographers and journalists are to the world.

In this book, Rigamonti has compiled images taken during 5 separate trips to Afghanistan where he was stationed with Polish troupes. There, he documented the life inside the camp. The boredom and tension. The recreation and stress. The fear and the chaos. This is a book that must be read. You can't just flip through without acknowledging the captions, and notes scattered amongst the images. The images show you a part of what's happened, but the texts provide truth that can sometimes be camouflaged by people's blurry, desensitized eyes.

In a time when the photobook and self publishing is flourishing. Books like these not only deserve a space, but need a space on people's shelves. They tell a truth not corrupted by the media and government. They are still from 1 person's, possibly subjective, point of view, but they are from a point of view of someone real, not some organisation trying to cash in on the events of war. They are someone who has put their life on the line and experienced it first hand. Someone with no agenda other than telling the story as it is.

Really great book. (...)

Kupiłem sobie dzisiaj egzemplarz. No dobra, cztery , na prezenty. Jest niesamowity! Gorąco wszystkim polecam. Zdjęcia i opisy są takie, że człowiek ma wrażenie jakby tam był. Niesamowite.