Metaphors of Independence: Poland In 100 Photos. 
to Nov 11

Metaphors of Independence: Poland In 100 Photos. 

From the book Echo – Maksymilian Rigamonti


Author: Michał Dąbrowski

The photographs from Maksymilian Rigamonti’s book Echo refer to memories of the generation that lived through the collective trauma of the Volhynia massacre.

The couple in the above photograph are the first people to appear in the book, which is otherwise dominated by pictures of the historical Volhynian landscape – trees and fields under leaden skies. The photographs are supplemented by snippets of interviews, as well as information on the number of victims who died near the photographed sites.

In the work above, a boy is frozen in an unnatural pose: a forced embrace. His incisive gaze and indifferent body language suggest vague annoyance. The young people Rigamonti has photographed belong to a generation that cannot recall the Volhynia tragedy, even if they have surely heard of it. The photographer has captured secondary witnesses to the tragedy. The second (or next) generation’s memories are founded on empathetic reconstructions of those tragic events, and moulded by stories, films, textbooks and historical discourse. Although we know nothing about the couple in the portrait, they seem like a fitting illustration of possible reactions to traumatic events: on the one hand, cognitive bewilderment, and on the other, a twinge of empathy; one may either repress the experience, or accept it. The scene is completed by a cart in the foreground, a rural landscape in the background, and an overcast sky – familiar, easily identifiable elements.

Rigamonti’s book depicts sites where the tragedy occurred, together with eyewitnesses, and members of the next generation. His photographs not only illustrate the current situation, they also shape attitudes towards history – how to interpret and comprehend it, and how to empathise with the victims.

In the book, this photograph is accompanied by the caption: 'Wygranka, July 11, 1943 (more than 140 people)'.

Originally written in Polish, translated by MB, Nov 2018

This text is part of the project Metaphors of Independence: Poland In 100 Photos. 

To coincide with the centenary of Poland regaining its independence, we have created a selection of photographs that allow us to understand both yesterday and today. A hundred photographs but so much more. Find out more.

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ECHO. Book review in by Michał Dąbrowski
10:30 AM10:30

ECHO. Book review in by Michał Dąbrowski

Author: Michał Dąbrowski

Echo is the effect of several journeys to the historical region of Volhynia. This well-balanced and ambiguous book is a tale about great history and senseless cruelty, composed of photos and first-hand reports. 

To view the book, one has to unbend the cover pinned down with a magnet. The inside resembles a pile of archive photographs. Echo consists of 12 cards which can be unfolded like a map – each of them contains four black-and-white photos. A golden sticker is the only colour accent in the book. On each page, there is a several-verses-long text, the name of the village and its GPS coordinates. Rushing the reading would be impossible – it would end with breaking off one of the pages or skipping a story included in the hidden spread.

Echo, Magdalena i Maksymilian Rigamonti, photo: publisher's press materials

The first photo depicts a meadow – a plain landscape cut in two by the horizon situated more or less in the middle of the scene. A symmetrical, orderly frame which could have been shot anywhere. First people to appear in the book is a young couple in their twenties, standing next to a cart. The boy gazes at the distance and does not embrace the girl who is hugging him. He is sad, angry or trying to contain the anger – it is difficult to tell. On the reverse, there is a short note: Wygranka, 11th July 1943, more than 140 people.

Next, there are wildflowers growing in mud. After spreading the page – a landscape disappearing in the mist. Another woman stands in open space. All we can see next to her is a small fragment of a poor playground surrounded by tires. We read:

There is nowhere to run, nowhere to hide, the forest is far away, the road is far away. And it's uphill. You could run downhill and then uphill again. And pray.

Photo from the book Echo, photo: Maksymilian Rigamonti, publisher's press materials

In one of the few trees, the Holy Mother stands hidden in a piece of bark. Krzywucha, August 1943, approximately 70 people. In the next spread, there is a man, next to him a volcanic rock mine. Janowa Dolina, where 600 people were killed. We watch them from a factory through a dirty windowpane. Some people are in the fields, the grass is burned off in the next photo. Above all this a snow-white cloud is visible. Following a few portraits, there is a photo of two trees. One is in bloom, the other one remains leafless and broken. After expanding the spread, one can see remnants of snow covering the foundation of the houses – white outlines of rectangles on black soil is all that is left of them.

A mother with three children and a dog stands by the fence. Here, Magdalena Rigamonti recounts a story of a woman who ran away with her child through the fields. A bullet shot by one of the Banderites was supposed to reach her head which made her lose consciousness. The boy who managed to survive thanks to this escape is Mirosław Hermaszewski – the first Pole in space. During the Volhynia massacre, members of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army murdered 19 members of his family.

The photograph with the exposure set on the sky is very telling – because of this, the ground is black, almost entirely devoid of detail. Then we see a crying woman supporting herself with a wooden cane. 'Zośka. From a Polish family'. She says that she remembers everything. Her husband was Ukrainian. His brother was in the Ukrainian Insurgent Army. 227 people died on this field.

"Echo" – Magdalena i Maksymilian Rigamonti [galeria]

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Subtle, muted landscape photos dominated this book. There are many detailed shots, fragments of trees. If there was no information offered on the geographical coordinates and names of the villages, the images would have been pretentious, encumbered by the vague symbolism. Rigamonti manages to avoid this by showing specific fields on which the tragedy took place instead of simply searching for a metaphor for silence. Each of the following photos of a landscape cut in half by the horizon is a new map: that of oblivion and denial.

A note from the author finishes the book. He writes about his own fear – fear of the smell of death, of goosebumps. He sums up the atmosphere of the Majdan village: 'here, the very same quiet and disquiet can be felt in the air'. This ambivalence perfectly summarizes the project as a whole.

Maksymilian Rigamonti, together with the author of the texts, photo-editor, designer and all the other people involved in the project managed to create a book which both piques curiosity and is bloodcurdling. It is tacit and well-balanced, but also blunt because of linking together photos of the places and placing the victim count next to them. The print seeped into the mat paper and decreased the contrast as if covering it with dust. When closing the book, the reader has to once again bend the cover and connect two magnets. You can hear their click just next to the embossed title. In Polish photography publications, it seldom happens that the form enhances the content in such a meaningful way.

Publisher: Press Club Polska
Photographs: Maksymilian Rigamonti
Text: Magdalena Rigamonti
Graphic design: Kasia Kubicka
Photo editing: Ewa Meissner

Written by Michał Dąbrowski, Jun 2018, translated by Patryk Grabowski, Jun 2018

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Jaki ślad zostawi w nas "ECHO"?
2:30 PM14:30

Jaki ślad zostawi w nas "ECHO"?

Grzegorz Dembiński recenzuje w tajemnicy makietę książki przed jej publikacją.

Makieta „Echa” składa obietnicę bardzo sugestywnego i silnego przekazu, zbudowanego z subtelnych, nastrojowych pejzaży, rzadko przełamywanych kadrami z obecnością ludzi, wzbudzających rodzaj sentymentu, jakiego doświadczamy przeglądając czarnobiałe zdjęcia w albumach rodzinnych. Zapowiada też, to co staje się znakiem szczególnym Rigamontich, próbę poruszenia tematu poprzez zdarcie naskórka i badanie ciągle żywej rany. Gdy będziemy książkę mieli już w rękach, skojarzeń i odczytań znajdziemy na pewno więcej.

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Wystartowała zbiórka na książkę "ECHO"
to Mar 29

Wystartowała zbiórka na książkę "ECHO"

Drodzy, stało się, potrzebujemy Waszej pomocy. Nasza książka „ECHO” o Wołyniu potrzebuje Waszej pomocy.

Mamy przygotowaną makietę z przepiękną edycją zdjęć Ewa Meissner. Godziny spotkań, rozmów, przekonywania do swoich racji były bardzo ważnym wkładem w powstawanie naszej książki. 

Dzięki wielu rozmowom z Maciek Nabrdalik powstał koncept książki mapy. Ogromnie cenię jego umiejętność słuchania i obserwacji. Maciek, bardzo dziękuję.

Projekt graficzny stworzyła Kasia Kubicka. „Miłość” mieszała się z „nienawiścią”. ;-) Kasia, wykonałaś świetną robotę, za którą bardzo dziękujemy!

Wydawcą książki jest Press Club PolskaJaroslaw Wlodarczyk wierzył w Maksymiliana i miał cierpliwość do jego braku cierpliwości.

Katarzyna Siela Sielicka i Ireneusz Broda redagowali teksty zawarte w książce, w czym są mistrzami.

Tłumaczenie tekstów książki to zasługa Adama Robińskiego. Potrafił zatrzymać ducha polskich słów w języku angielskim.

Swoich potężnych głosów w wideo użyczyli nam Gina d'Amalfi i Daniel Kondraciuk. Wielkie podziękowania!!!

Naszym konsultantem był Olaf Popkiewicz, archeolog, odkrywca Trupiego Pola w okolicach Woli Ostrowieckiej na Wołyniu.

Ja, Magdalena Rigamonti napisałam teksty w książce. Bardzo krótkie, ale bardzo długo powstawały. 

Ja, Maksymilian Rigamonti objechałem dużą część zachodniej Ukrainy, docierając do miejsc, których nie ma.

Podróżowali ze mną na Wołyń  Kola NeezJacek Waszkiewicz i Artur Mróz-Gonçalves. Bez ich pomocy na bezdrożach Ukrainy byłoby naprawdę źle. Odkopywanie samochodu na podmokłym polu, przemierzanie zasypanych śniegiem dróg, nocowanie pod gołym niebem i uciekanie przed lokalnymi awanturnikami pozostanie na zawsze w mojej pamięci. Dziękuję, Chłopaki!

Chielibyśmy bardzo podziękować śp. Anatolowi Sulikowi za jego wszystkie wołyńskie opowieści. Zaraził nas Pan, Panie Anatolu, tą historią na lata. 

Dziękujemy za Waszą pomoc!

Ps. Książka jest piękna! 

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Premiera książki "Straty. Żołnierze z Afganistanu"
6:00 AM06:00

Premiera książki "Straty. Żołnierze z Afganistanu"

23 lutego 2015 odbyła się premiera książki Magdaleny i Maksymiliana Rigamonti "Straty. Żołnierze z Afganistanu".

Magdalena i Maksymilian Rigamonti, dziennikarka i fotograf spróbowali opowiedzieć o tej wojnie poprzez historie tych, którzy tam, w Afganistanie stracili ręce, nogi, kolegów, synów, mężów, ojców, spokój ducha. Mają za sobą dwanaście długich rozmów o stracie, rozmów o wojnie, uzależnieniu od niej, tęsknocie i miłości. Raz w miesiącu spotykali się z jednym bohaterem tej książki, prawie zawsze w jego domu.

Wydawca: PWN

Liczba stron: 183
Rodzaj oprawy: twarda
Wydanie: pierwsze

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Maksymilian Rigamonti laureatem Grand Press Photo 2012
2:30 PM14:30

Maksymilian Rigamonti laureatem Grand Press Photo 2012

Zdjęciem Roku tegorocznej edycji konkursu Grand Press Photo została fotografia Maksymiliana Rigamontiego z ekshumacji polskich oficerów na cmentarzu w Bykowni, opublikowana w "Newsweek Polska".,0,galeria-grand-press-photo-2012.html

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