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Michal Iwanowski’s photobook documents a 2,200km solitary journey that echoes his grandfather’s daring escape from a PoW camp in Russia in 1945.
Michal Iwanowski’s photobook documents a 2,200km solitary journey that echoes his grandfather’s daring escape from a PoW camp in Russia in 1945.
345 backers pledged €16,573 to help bring this project to life.

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Clear of People — A photobook by Michal Iwanowski

€16,573

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Michal Iwanowski’s photobook “Clear of People” retraces a journey, originally made in 1945 by the artist’s grandfather and uncle, through a politically charged and precarious landscape.

The 2,200 km fugitive odyssey began in Kaluga, Russia, where the two brothers had spent a year in a prisoner-of-war camp. Their daring escape was followed by a three month trek. Struggling against constant cold, hunger and exhaustion, they moved under the cover of the night, avoiding any contact with people. Driven by their longing to return home, and having escaped death on numerous occasions, they eventually made it to Wroclaw, Poland, where they were reunited with their family.

70 years later, Michal Iwanowski returned to Russia with a map and notes inherited from his uncle. He embarked on a similar journey, faithfully retracing every step, with a camera as his sole comrade. And just like Tolek and Wiktor had, he steered clear of people along the way.

“It seems that in recent years the notion of the journey within landscape photography is more frequently focusing on personal rather than global stories, bringing to attention individual experiences and narratives that are otherwise often lost. I find this very refreshing,” says the photographer.

Read More

FK Magazine — Interview with Tom Mrazauskas and Michal Iwanowski
BBC News — Photographer recreates family’s escape from Gulag
Urbanautica — Michal Iwanowski. Clear of People
Bird in Flight (in Russian) — 2 200 000 шагов: Польский фотограф повторил путь деда, бежавшего из ГУЛАГа
WalesOnline — A photographer walked 1,360 miles from Russia to Poland retracing the steps of relatives who escaped from a prisoner of war camp
Darwin Magazine — Interview with photographer Michal Iwanowski

 The escape (1945)

A few kilometres in we started worrying they might already be looking for us. Suddenly Tolek noticed a boat tied to a large pale, floating on the Oka. The boat was small, but a boat nonetheless. The four of us wrestled the pale, and as it gave way, we jumped onboard and set off. Paddling with a plank ripped off the seat, we slowly steered away from the wretched Kaluga.

We made it across the river relatively quickly, considering it was much wider than Wisła. When we got close to the other side, we lay low and let the boat float some two kilometres down with the current before disembarking onto the sandy shore. (…) We walked until the break of dawn, sticking to the plan we’d only move during the night in order to avoid contact with people. (…) After eating half a rusk each, washing it down with hot water boiled over the fire, and smoking a cigarette, the first two went to sleep, while Tolek and I kept guard. We had agreed only two of us could sleep at the same time.

• • •

We began planning our next move. Tolek rolled out a map he had stolen from the barracks and studied the route carefully. He reached into his pocket and took out a makeshift compass. He’d made it by wrapping a piece of wire onto a needle and sticking its two ends in a socket, which magnetised the devise. With such topographic tools at hand we felt we stood a chance at making it.

• • •

We met a railway worker by the tracks. I approached and asked him in Polish if he knew from where a train to Lida might be running. He paused for a moment, and then replied in the most lilting east borderland dialect: “Well, from this track they usually leave for Minsk and for Vilnius – just ask the driver.” On hearing “Vilnius” my heart skipped a beat – dear god, might we really see our beloved city soon?

• • •

I entered the chamber first. Grandmother was standing in the kitchen, lighting up the fire, as I greeted her in a loud voice. She turned around and asked: “Who are you after?” Slightly taken aback by that question, I said: “It’s me, Wicik Iwanowski.” Grandma took a good look at me and just stared, silent and surprised. I got closer and noticed she looked different. Then I heard the dreaded truth: “The owners have left for Poland a long time ago, now we are the landlords here, and just what are you two doing here at this hour?” We were speechless.

Fragments of Wiktor Iwanowski’s “Wilno, Ojczyzno Moja…” (Szczecin, 1994). Images from family archive.

The Photobook

The book is designed and ready to go to press. This Kickstarter campaign aims to raise funds to cover the production cost and shipping expenses.

Our vision is to produce a medium-sized book, resembling a log-journal. Uncoated bulky paper will make it lightweight and offset press at 120 l/cm will make the photographs look extra detailed. Right now we are testing the press process and improving the binding solution.

The book will be printed and bound in Germany following high environmental and social standards.

Michal Iwanowski, Clear of People

56 colour photographs, text,
archival images and documents

116 pages, 195×254 mm,
section sewn, flexcover with rounded spine,
120 l/cm offset print

Designed by Tom Mrazauskas

A mock-up of the book. Photography by Vladimir Svetlov
A mock-up of the book. Photography by Vladimir Svetlov

The Budget

We estimated a production of at least 500 copies of the book. This is the lowest print-run possible in the offset process. The cost of production is €12,000, expenses of shipping & packaging are estimated at €2,000. Kickstarter and Payment processing fees will apply if the project is successfully funded (ca. 9% of total funds raised).

It’s worth to add that we are very happy about Kickstarter’s service, which is provided for comparatively low fee. As you know, distribution of printed books is much more costly service – it makes ca. 50% of book price you pay in an average bookshop. This is why we decided to revers the process, focusing our resources on making an object of high value, and pre-selling it here on Kickstarter.

We care about the environment, therefore we opted for the most considerate printing process, which comes at a higher price. Nature is an important part of this project and our aim is to reduce the environmental footprint to minimum.

Rewards

First of all, our heartfelt thanks go to all our backers and supporters.

We have added a new reward – a signed poster (40×60 cm, edition of 50 at €120, + a copy of the book included).

Signed poster. 40×60 cm, ink-jet print, edition of 50
Signed poster. 40×60 cm, ink-jet print, edition of 50

For pledges that include a fine art print, please select an image and size from the following options:

Kickstarter edition – 30×20 cm fine art print
· image of your choice (#1, #2 or #3);
· archival “Hahnemühle Photo Rag” 308g paper;
· signed and numbered in an edition of 18;
· only for people who support this project on Kickstarter.

Collectors’ edition – 60×40 cm fine art print
· image of your choice (#M1, #M2, #M3 or #M4)
· archival “Hahnemühle Photo Rag” 308g paper;
· signed and numbered in an edition of 10;
· 420 Eur price is limited to Kickstarter backers only.

Collectors’ edition – 100×70 cm fine art print
· image of your choice (#L1 or #L2)
· archival “Hahnemühle Photo Rag” 308g paper;
· signed and numbered in an edition of 3.

For Collectors’ Edition prints all 56 images from the series are available in both sizes. If you are interested in a particular image that is not displayed on Kickstarter, we can make that available for you. (Please get in touch with Michal Iwanowski at contact@michaliwanowski.com).

#1 Kickstarter edition. 30×20 cm, fine art print
#1 Kickstarter edition. 30×20 cm, fine art print
#2 Kickstarter edition. 30×20 cm, fine art print
#2 Kickstarter edition. 30×20 cm, fine art print
#3 Kickstarter edition. 30×20 cm, fine art print
#3 Kickstarter edition. 30×20 cm, fine art print
#M1 Collectors’ edition. 60×40 cm, fine art print, edition of 10
#M1 Collectors’ edition. 60×40 cm, fine art print, edition of 10
#M2 Collectors’ edition. 60×40 cm, fine art print, edition of 10
#M2 Collectors’ edition. 60×40 cm, fine art print, edition of 10
#M3 Collectors’ edition. 60×40 cm, fine art print, edition of 10
#M3 Collectors’ edition. 60×40 cm, fine art print, edition of 10
#M4 Collectors’ edition. 60×40 cm, fine art print, edition of 10
#M4 Collectors’ edition. 60×40 cm, fine art print, edition of 10
#L1 Collectors’ edition. 100×70 cm, fine art print, edition of 3
#L1 Collectors’ edition. 100×70 cm, fine art print, edition of 3
#L2 Collectors’ edition. 100×70 cm, fine art print, edition of 3
#L2 Collectors’ edition. 100×70 cm, fine art print, edition of 3

Who we are

Michal Iwanowski (*1977) is a Cardiff-based photographer and a Ffotogallery tutor. He studied Documentary Photography at the University of Wales, Newport, graduating in 2008. Iwanowski’s work explores the relationship between landscape and memory, looking for histories, individuals and traces about to fade. michaliwanowski.com

“Clear of People” series was previously shown in exhibitions in the United Kingdom, Lithuania, Belarus, Georgia and Poland. The photographer has been participating in international shows since 2004.

Tom Mrazauskas (*1980) is a Berlin-based book designer working since 2008. His works won several awards in international book design competitions and earned a special mention in Paris Photo / Aperture Foundation PhotoBook of the Year Award 2014. mrazauskas.de

Most recently, he has founded Brave Books, an independent publisher with a focus on photography and works that are best conveyed and represented in a book format. bravebooks.berlin

Michal Iwanowski & Tom Mrazauskas. Photography by Jay Bedwani
Michal Iwanowski & Tom Mrazauskas. Photography by Jay Bedwani

Risks and challenges

The book is designed and ready to go to press. As in many publishing projects, there is a risk of delay. However, this risk is met with more than 8 years experience in book publishing that the designer, Tom Mrazauskas, has. Our best efforts will secure that the book will be printed in June 2016 and will reach you in time.

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    Preview! Digital version of the book (pdf file). Unlimited edition. Share it with your friends. Email delivery.

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    Signed poster – 40×60 cm ink-jet print, signed in an edition of 50. Only available to Kickstarter backers. Worldwide shipping included.

    + 1 book

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    Kickstarter edition – 30×20 cm fine art print of photograph of your choice (#1, #2 or #3), signed and numbered in an edition of 12. Only available to Kickstarter backers. Worldwide shipping included.

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    #M1 Collectors’ edition – 60×40 cm fine art print, signed and numbered in an edition of 10. Worldwide shipping included.

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    #L1 Collectors’ edition – 100×70 cm fine art print, signed and numbered in an edition of 3. Worldwide shipping included.

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    Become a patron of the project. You can make it happen! Your name (or name of your company) will be printed in the “Clear of People” colophon page.

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Funding period

- (37 days)