In 1971, a Soviet TV station broadcasted a popular science show presenting mechanisms which can efficiently manipulate the human consciousness. Young people invited to the studio underwent experiments which aimed at showing the viewers how suggestion and conformism influence the perception of reality in such a way that even the most obvious facts were eliminated. It wouldn’t be exaggeration to say that this picture (even though not directly) disclosed the techniques used on a daily basis by the Soviet authority. Back then, nobody realized the revolutionary potential of this work – the regime’s propaganda presented this as some interesting scientific fact unrelated to the actual situation.
Contemporary autocracies, in particular those of the post-Soviet area, have pretty successfully adopted the techniques of collective control over citizens’ consciousness that were presented on TV. They have created some giant laboratory, where – regardless of the consequences – a model of exemplary social structure is being developed.
Refusal is an attempt to visually depict various systems of control and exerting pressure. The process of formatting, shifting the meanings and creating new ideologies includes both innocent gestures and proven social engineering techniques. Depending on the region, they vary in terms of intensity, scale and methods, but they all serve a specific utopian picture imposed by the state apparatus. The only recorded example of disturbing such a scheme was the incident which took place at a kolkhoz in Krejwańcy, Belarus, where ploughman Walerij, a local udarnik, despite an explicit order from his superiors, refused to cooperate with the photographer.
Rafał Milach (born in 1978 in Gliwice, Poland) – a visual artist, photographer, author of books. His works focus on transformations occurring in the former Eastern bloc. A graduate of the Academy of Fine Arts in Katowice and the Institute of Creative Photography at the Silesian University in Opava, the Czech Republic (where he currently lectures). Author of award-winning books such as The Winners, 7 Rooms. Awarded with the grants of the Minister of Culture and National Heritage, Magnum Foundation and European Cultural Foundation. Winner of numerous competitions, including Pictures of the Year International, World Press Photo. Co-founder of the Sputnik Photos collective. He has presented many exhibitions in Poland and around the world. His works are in the collections of the Centre for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle in Warsaw, ING Polish Art Foundation, Museum in Gliwice, Kiyosato Museum of Photographic Arts (Japan), Brandts in Odense (Denmark).
Opening: 12.05 19.00
Place: Atlas Sztuki, Piotrkowska 114/116
Exhibition open: 13.05-18.06, Tue-Fri: 11.00-20.00, Sat-Sun: 11.00-17.00