Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin
Gallery News for Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin
Bromberg & Chanarin win Deutsche Börse Photography Prize for 2013
Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin are winners of the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize 2013. The London-based artists won the £30,000 prize, awarded at The Photographers’ Gallery on 10 June 2013, for their critically acclaimed work, War Primer 2. Broomberg and Chanarin’s work physically inhabits the pages of Bertolt Brecht’s 1955 publication War Primer. The original was published in German in 1955 under the title Kriegsfibel. While War Primer was concerned with images of the Second World War, War Primer 2 updates Brecht’s piece with images of the conflict generated by both sides of the so-called ‘War on Terror’. The work will also feature in the New Photography 2013 exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in September.
Broomberg & Chanarin shortlisted for Deutsche Börse Photography Prize 2013
Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin have been shortlisted for the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize 2013, along with Mishka Henner, Chris Killip and Cristina De Middel. The winner will be announced at a special ceremony at The Photographers’ Gallery in May 2013. Works by the shortlisted photographers will be shown in an exhibition at The Photographers’ Gallery followed by presentations at the Deutsche Börse headquarters in Frankfurt/Eschborn and at C/O Berlin, Forum for Visual Dialogues. The Deutsche Börse Photography Prize 2013 is presented by The Photographers’ Gallery, London. The annual award of £30,000 rewards a living photographer, of any nationality, for a specific body of work in an exhibition or publication format,
which has significantly contributed to photography in Europe between 1 October 2011 and 30 September 2012.
Ghada Amer and Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin in Qatar
Ghada Amer and Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin are exhibiting work on Tea with Nefertiti The Making of the Artwork by the Artist, the Museum and the Public at Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art in Doha, Qatar. The exhibition explores how an artwork can acquire numerous meanings and functions that can embody a number of diverse narratives. It departs from an excavation of the contested histories by which Egyptian collections have been amassed in international museums from the 19th century onwards. The exhibition runs from 17 November 2012 – 31 March 2013.
Mikhael Subotzky and Broomberg & Chanarin at the Saatchi Gallery
Photographs from Mikhael Subotzky’s ‘Beaufort West’ series and Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin’s ‘People in trouble’ series feature on Out of Focus at the Saatchi Gallery in London. This is the first major photography exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery since the highly acclaimed and controversial 2001 show I Am a Camera, and presents work by 38 artists who offeinnovativer an international perspective on current trends in photography, working with the medium in diverse, and arresting ways.
The exhibition runs from the 25 April – 22 July 2012
For more information click here
Press for Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin
Broomberg & Chanarin / Artforum.com / June 2011Critic's Pick: Alias (134 KB)
Visions of South Africa / GQ Japan / July 2010Visions of South Africa by Kei Wakabayashi (6.5 MB)
In our first exhibition of the year – To Photograph the Details of a Dark Horse in Low Light – Goodman Gallery Johannesburg will present two new related bodies of work by Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin. In 1970, Caroline Hunter, a young chemist working for the Polaroid Corporation, stumbled upon evidence that her multinational employees were indirectly supporting apartheid. With the collusion of local distributors Frank & Hirsch, Polaroid was able to provide the ID-2 camera system to the South African state, to efficiently produce images for the infamous passbooks. The camera included a boost button designed to increase the flash when photographing subjects with dark skin. Alongside her partner Ken Williams they formed the Polaroid Workers Revolutionary Movement, and campaigned for a boycott. By 1977, Polaroid finally did withdraw from South Africa, and the international divestment movement – which eventually crippled apartheid – was on its way. The radical notion that prejudice might be inherent in the medium of photography itself is interrogated by the artists Broomberg and Chanarin in this presentation of new works produced on salvaged polaroid ID-2 systems.
Early colour film was known to be predicated on white skin and in 1977 when Jean-Luc Godard was invited on an assignment to Mozambique, he famously refused to use Kodak film on the grounds that the film stock was inherently ‘racist’. The title of Broomberg and Chanarin’s exhibition was originally the coded phrase used by Kodak to describe the capabilities of a new film stock developed in the early ’80s to address the inability of their earlier films to accurately render dark skin. In response to a commission to ‘document’ Gabon, Broomberg and Chanarin recently made two trips to the country to photograph a series of rare Bwiti initiation rituals, using only Kodak film stock that had expired in the late 1970s. Working with outdated chemical processes they succeeded in salvaging just a single frame from the many expired colour rolls they exposed during their visit. In this wide-ranging meditation on the relationship between photography and race, the artists continue to scrutinise the photographic medium, leading viewers through a convoluted history lesson; a combination of found images, rescued artifacts and unstable new photographic works.
With special thanks to David Rosenberg, Josh Ponte and Caroline Hunter.
Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin are artists living and working in London. Together they have published nine monographs and have had numerous international exhibitions including The Gwagnju Biennale, the Stedelijk Museum, the International Center of Photography, KW Institute for Contemporary Art, The Photographers Gallery and are currently showing at Mathaf Arab Museum of Modern Art. Broomberg and Chanarin teach at the Zurich University of the Arts and are Visiting Fellows at the University of the Arts London. Their work is represented in major public and private collections including Tate Modern, the Stedelijk Museum, Victoria and Albert Museum, Musee de l’Elysee and the International Center of Photography. They were recently shortlisted for the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize 2013.
In a new exhibition at Goodman Gallery Johannesburg, South African born and UK based Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin bring together three powerful series produced in the past four years. People in trouble laughing pushed to the ground (2010), The Day Nobody Died (2008) and The Red House (2007) are all located within zones of conflict – Northern Ireland, Afghanistan and Iraq respectively.
At times hauntingly beautiful and engagingly uncanny, People in trouble laughing pushed to the ground was produced by Broomberg and Chanarin in response to an invitation to work with the Belfast Exposed photographic archive in Northern Ireland. The archive, established by photojournalists around the beginning of the Troubles in the early ’80s, is equally concerned with protests, funerals and acts of terrorism as it is with the more ordinary stuff of life – drinking tea, kissing girls, watching trains. In each instance, the presence of the archivist is discernable through a range of marks and incisions on the contact sheets. Broomberg and Chanarin acknowledge and thank the original photographers Mervyn Smith, Sean Mc Kernan, Gerry Casey, Seamus Loughran and all other contributing photographers to Belfast Exposed’s archive.
The Day Nobody Died was realised by Broomberg and Chanarin in June 2008 during a trip to Afghanistan, where they were embedded with British Army units on the front line in Helmand Province, arriving during the deadliest month of the war. On their first day a BBC fixer was dragged from his car and executed and nine Afghan soldiers were killed in a suicide attack. The following day the number of British combat fatalities was pushed to 100, with casualties continuing until the fifth day when nobody died. In response to these, as well as a series of more mundane occurrences, Broomberg and Chanarin turned an armoured vehicle into a temporary darkroom, producing a series of peculiar abstract forms modulated by the heat and light, presenting an alternative to the photographic documentation of war.
The Red House is a series of 27 photographs of wall drawings and graphic marks made by Kurdish prisoners held in the former headquarters of Saddam Hussein’s Ba’athist party in northern Iraq. After the 1991 Kurdish uprising this notorious place of incarceration, torture and sometimes death, remained as a monument to the cruelty of war. Cropped and isolated, there is no visual information other than these curious markings, revealing an unexpected bout of expression amidst the monotony, solitude and terror of captivity. “History presents itself as a palimpsest” writes author David Campany. ”The traces recorded by these photographs may relate to past events in the history of the Red House but nothing is settled in Iraq yet. While the photographs are fixed forever, these may not be the last marks made on these walls.”
Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin have been collaborating for over a decade. They have produced six books, which in different ways examine the language of documentary photography; Trust (2000) accompanied their first solo-show at The Hasselblad Center; Ghetto (2003) a collection of their work as editors and principal photographers of Colors magazine, was exhibited at the Victoria & Albert Museum; Mr. Mkhize’s Portrait (2004) documented South Africa ten years after apartheid and accompanied a solo show at The Photographer’s Gallery; Chicago (2006), an exploration of contemporary Israel was published by SteidMACK in conjunction with a solo-show at The Stedelijk Museum; Fig which was published in Autumn 2007, also by Steidl, to accompany solo exhibitions at the John Hansard Gallery and Impressions Gallery, UK. The Red House (2007) is published by Steidl Editions. Broomberg and Chanarin regularly teach workshops and give master classes in photography, as well as teaching on the MA in Documentary Photography at LCC in London and the MFA at the School of Visual Arts in New York. They are the recipients of numerous awards, including the Vic Odden Award from the Royal Photographic Society.
Goodman Gallery Cape Town proudly presents the first solo show in South Africa by Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin. Ficciones centres around two related series of works that extend the artists’ pre-occupation with the role of representation in places of trauma and conflict.
The first, Afterlife, is a re-reading of a controversial photograph taken in Iran on 6 August 1979. This remarkable image, taken just months after the revolution, records the execution of 11 blindfolded Kurdish prisoners by firing squad. The image, which captures the decisive moment the guns were fired, was immediately reproduced in newspapers and magazines across the world. The following year it was awarded a Pulitzer Prize and for the next 30 years its author was simply known as “Anonymous.” Only recently has the photographer’s identity been revealed as Jahangir Razmi, a commercial studio photographer working in the suburbs of Tehran.
The artists sought out and interviewed Razmi, and based on these discussions along with an examination of the 26 neglected images on the roll of film Razmi produced that day, they present a series of collages–an iconoclastic breakdown or dissection of the original image – that interrupts our relationship as spectators to images of distant suffering.
The second series of works, American Landscapes, takes the interiors of commercial photography studios across the United States as its ostensible subject. The artists reject the foreground and highlight instead the space in which images are literally “made.” In these occasionally abstract photographs the surfaces of walls, floors and ceilings junction along straight lines and parabolic curves to create the unspoiled white space known in the photography industry as Cycloramas. The artists refer to these spaces as ‘scenography for a free market economy’ or simply ‘Landscapes’. For just as the American West came to represent unbound possibility in the minds of early pioneers, so these studio walls act as a blank screen on which any sort of fantasy may be projected.
Adam Broomberg (b. SA, 1970) and Oliver Chanarin (b. UK, 1971) have been collaborating for over a decade on works and publications that in different ways examine the language of documentary photography. Together they have produced six monographs, and have exhibited in many of the world’s most prestigious museums including the V&A, the Stedelijk Museum, The Photographer’s Gallery, Circullo des Bellas Artes, The International Center of Photography and The Hasselblad Center.
Goodman Gallery Cape Town presents Structures, a group exhibition bringing together works by Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin, Carlos Garaicoa, David Goldblatt, Mikhael Subotzky and Jeremy Wafer. The exhibition is concerned with structures both monumental and mundane, and aims to examine the ways in which they inform the environments we inhabit, and what they suggest about the underlying systems that give rise to them.
David Goldblatt’s series South Africa: The Structure of Things Then deals in part with the architectural landscape of Apartheid South Africa and the relationship between the governing ideology of the time and its physical manifestations across the country. Mikhael Subotzky’s ongoing Security series is in some ways a contemporary response, documenting the surveillance cameras, security huts and electrified fences of the modern suburban landscape, and examining the links between poverty, race, crime and the effects of a legacy of discriminatory spatial planning.
Bertolt Brecht’s War Primer is a book of what Brecht called ‘photo-epigrams’: newspaper and magazine clippings of images of the Second World War, each captioned with a 4-line poem. In Poor Monuments, Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin juxtapose pages from Brecht’s original book with images of modern conflicts (in particular the so-called War on Terror) to look at the changing (and sometimes unchanging) narrative of war, and the systems responsible for crafting and disseminating it.
Cuban-born Carlos Garacioa’s Para transformer la palabra política en hechos, finalmente II (To transform political speech into facts, finally) takes as its subject the city as a site for collective memory and imagination, while a new floor sculpture by Jeremy Wafer contemplates abstract and physical notions of space, and the degree to which a space is produced by the structures it contains.
Goodman Gallery Johannesburg welcomes you to 2012 with Advance/… Notice, an exhibition of new works by a dynamic group of contemporary artists from around the world. As we advance into a new calendar year, this exhibition gives notice of innovations from some of our artists who are already familiar to you, and of our new ventures into an intellectual exchange with artists with whom we are excited to work for the first time. This show will also give audiences a preview of what is to come, as many of the featured artists have solo shows planned for 2012 at Goodman Gallery spaces and other prestigious South African institutions.
Advance/… Notice introduces newly perfected techniques or processes for some of our well-known artists, such as platinum photographic prints by David Goldblatt, and a completely new turn of direction and field of interest for African American artist Hank Willis Thomas, who first exhibited with us on In Context in 2010, as well as for Sigalit Landau, the acclaimed Israeli artist we co-hosted at last year’s Venice Biennale. These international savants are joined by South African artists such as Hasan and Husain Essop, Moshekwa Langa, Mikhael Subotzky, Sue Williamson, William Kentridge, Rosenclaire, and Frances Goodman revealing either brand new works, or works not yet seen in Johannesburg. Also featured are works by Kendell Geers, whose retrospective exhibition will open at IZIKO South African National Gallery in late March 2012.
Our first show of the year seems an apt time to introduce the novel and the unexpected in the work of a number of artists and to also welcome prominent figures including Liza Lou, a world-renowned American now living and working in KwaZulu Natal; South African Candice Breitz, now resident in Berlin; Chilean-born New Yorker Alfredo Jaar; London-based Iranian Reza Aramesh, as well as Carla Busuttil – a young South African artist based in Berlin who is well-established in the United Kingdom, but has never before exhibited in her home country.
Liza Lou presents a work titled Gather Forty, one of a series of forty individual sculptures made from gold-plated beads that have been expertly threaded onto four hundred individual pieces of stainless steel wire and bound in a sheaf – continuing the shift of the beadwork medium from craft to conceptual art. Alfredo Jaar, internationally recognised artist, filmmaker and architect, celebrated for the public interventions he has created all over the world, shows From Time to Time, a panel of nine Time magazine covers focusing on Africa that either feature animals or malnourished Africans – revealing how the rest of the world often encapsulates its second largest continent. Breitz, who opens a major survey of her work titled Extra! at the Standard Bank Gallery this February, presents The Character, a video installation filmed in Mumbai that seeks to understand the role and influence of child characters in mainstream Indian cinema through interviews with a group of young moviegoers. In Action 78, Aramesh uses familiar scenes from news footage of the first Gulf War to restage, re-present and destabilise any easy readings of the conflicts we think we understand. Oil paintings by Busuttil offer a sinisterly-executed perusal of the exploitation of power and cruelty.
We are also very pleased to present for the first time the work of Nelisiwe Xaba, who will be presenting an interactive dance and video collaboration with Mocke J van Veuren at Goodman Gallery Projects in February. The crossover into visual art is exciting new territory for this renowned performer/dancer.
Goodman Gallery hopes you will join us to be inspired, challenged and excited by this exhibition and its promise of advances in the visual arts of South Africa. We trust you will find the exhibition gives notice of an innovative and exciting programme for 2012 in Johannesburg and Cape Town.
“I am only interested in what’s not mine. The law of men. The law of the cannibal.” – Oswald de Andrade, from The Cannibal Manifesto, 1928
Eat Me has not much to do with food. Instead it explores relationships between works by artists that mine recent art history and popular culture, through cannibalistic processes of referentiality and consumption to uncover new directions and meanings, either critically or aesthetically. In theoretical explorations by art historian Paulo Herkenhoff and Augustus Klotz, cannibalism is seen as a philosophical process of renewal and regeneration, as well as a form of cultural emancipation.
The show brings together works by South African and international artists to discover the ways in which visual culture is harvested, consumed and given new form. Violence, suffering and eroticism are collapsed and digested to bring forth new visual discourses, and perhaps new ways of seeing.
Reza Aramesh uses familiar scenes from news footage to restage, reclaim and re-represent events and identities we think we understand. Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin recycle archival photographs from the conflict in Northern Ireland to make way for new readings and new narratives. Frances Goodman, Ghada Amer, Mickalene Thomas and Joel Andrio use the language and imagery of romance and sex to push against the constraints of popular culture and undermine its hold on our imagination.
Eat Me also features new work by Hank Willis Thomas, video installations by Tracey Rose, Sigalit Landau and Kalup Linzy, and works by Gavin Turk and Kendell Geers. While the ingredients and methods differ, the resulting works all share a concern with the problems and processes of consumption, reclamation and renewal.
This winter the Goodman Gallery will relaunch its Parkwood space, which has been extensively reconsidered, both physically and conceptually. This launch will be initiated with a group exhibition simply titled Winter Show, featuring a range of luminary-status local and international artists. The show will not only present recent works by Goodman stalwarts such as William Kentridge, David Goldblatt, Sam Nhlengethwa and Mikhael Subotzky, but will also reveal a shift in the Gallery’s approach, showcasing work from around the Continent and beyond that is both explicitly and implicitly concerned with synergies and tensions between Africa and the rest of the globe. Some of the participating international artists, such as Ghada Amer and Hank Willis Thomas, are not only being showcased by the Goodman Gallery, but are now officially represented by us.
The Winter Show will act as a confluence of the Goodman Gallery’s top represented artists, as well as artists participating in In Context – a series of exhibitions and interventions currently taking place at Arts on Main and other venues in Johannesburg. Artists such as Jenny Holzer, Amer, Willis Thomas, Bili Bidjocka, Willem Boshoff and Kara Walker will participate in both shows, with the Winter Show presenting some of their more recent work. While In Context manifests an intimate and often candid exploration of the dynamics of the African continent, the Winter Show will offer a broader conceptual platform, covering many aspects of South African, African and global landscapes and conditions.
The Winter Show will elaborate on the thorny notion of the politics of representation, which Brenda Atkinson and Candice Breitz confronted in their 1999 collection of essays Grey Areas: Representation, Identity and Politics in Contemporary South African Art. The book was a direct response to the critique of Nigerian curator Okwui Enwezor, who was the creative director of the Second Johannesburg Biennial in 1997. At the time, Enwezor interrogated the practice of artists such as Breitz, Minnette Vári and Penny Siopis, intricately considering the question of ‘who has the right to represent whom?’ Now, over a decade later, accusations of misrepresentation have been revisited and reconsidered not only by Enwezor himself and those whose essays were included in Grey Areas, but by the art community at large. In Context magnifies these issues, while the Winter Show augments the dialogue, bringing new voices into the conversation.
Compelling features of the Winter Show include two of Walker’s 2009 films – which are based on narratives from archives of a bureau established in 1865 to assist African Americans with the transition from slavery to freedom – presenting the artist’s signature black-silhouette cut-out figures, which almost impossibly convey the complexities of race, gender, sexuality and power in their stilted and provocative movements. Jenny Holzer’s Purple Red Curve (2005) transmits a coalescence of master narratives through a curved electronic LED sign. Jeremy Wafer will create a site-specific wall drawing in the Goodman Gallery specifically for the show. Kentridge will present a series of new drawings produced this year as well as a maquette of the structure World on its Hind Legs, created in collaboration with Gerhard Marx. A large scale, steel version of this work will be launched at the Apartheid Museum on 8 July 2010 as part of In Context. The Winter Show will also feature an ongoing screening of all of the Goodman Gallery’s top art films by leading artists such as Kentridge and Vári.
The Goodman Gallery in Parkwood has undergone numerous physical transformations and now boasts a new showroom and a space dedicated to photographic works. We are in the process of establishing an art library accessible to the visiting public and will offer a range of educational art talks and events during the Winter Show.
With Goodman Gallery firmly established as a prestigious, world-class contemporary art institution, the Winter Show will reveal how the Gallery – beyond representing artists of the highest caliber – is dedicated to bringing an innovative programme of relevant and compelling international works to South Africa, offering audiences exposure to some of the best contemporary work being produced locally and abroad.
Ryan Arenson | Walter Battiss | Deborah Bell | Justin Brett | Lisa Brice | Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin | Adam Broomberg | Kudzanai Chiurai | Marlene Dumas | Claire Gavronsky | Robert Hodgins | William Kentridge | David Koloane | Moshekwa Langa | Alexandra Makhlouf | Brett Murray | Sam Nhlengethwa | Walter Oltmann | Jonah Sack | Kathryn Smith | Jaco Spies | Clive Van Den Berg | Diane Victor | Jeremy Wafer | Sue Williamson
For many artists, drawing forms part of a larger process – a loose way of visualizing an artwork before committing to it in a more permanent medium. But the act of drawing itself remains one of the oldest and most eloquent forms of artistic expression. Goodman Gallery Cape is proud to present a group exhibition of drawings entitled ‘The Marks We Make’, exploring notions of mark-making as assertions of ownership and expressions of violence, memory and play.
Drawing usually refers to pencil marks on paper. In this exhibition we approach the term more loosely, featuring a range of media to question what constitutes a drawing and what gives it power. Works will include photographs from the Red House series by Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin, depicting the marks left behind by prisoners of Saddam Hussein in Iraq; wire and sculptural elements by Walter Oltmann and William Kentridge; installations by Jeremy Wafer, Jonah Sack and Justin Brett, as well as more traditional pencil, oil and charcoal drawings by Sue Williamson, Lisa Brice and Sam Nhlengethwa.
‘The Marks We Make’ brings together South African artists to explore the ways in which marks shape our environments and inform our perspectives. Bodies are circumscribed, silenced or marginalized by the invasive marks of violence. But these marks can also be used to express an identity, stake out a position or form communities. Territory is claimed, land contested, and ownership asserted through the use of marks, both physical and symbolic. The exhibition seeks to interrogate the ways in which these marks act to create the contingent, political spaces within which we form ourselves, and the role they play in shaping our personal and cultural memories.
This is a journey through 12 modern ghettos starting in a refugee camp in Tanzania and ending in a forest in Patagonia. In each of these places, Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin, as editors and photographers of COLORS magazine, methodically documented their inhabitants, and asked them the same questions: How did you get here? Who is in power? Where do you go to be alone? To make love? To get your teeth fixed? For many of those photographed it was their first time in front of a camera. Some looked into it with a hard, penetrating gaze. Others obeyed the ritual of photography with smiles.
Mr. Mkhize has been photographed twice before in his life. The first was for his Pass Book, which allowed the apartheid government to control his movements. The second was for his Identity Book, which allowed him to vote in the first democratic elections in 1994. Ten years later, we took his picture for no official reason.
Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin have photographed marks and drawings made on the walls of a fading pink building now known as the Red House. Situated on the slope of a hill in the town of Sulaymaniyah in Kurdish northern Iraq, it was originally the headquarters of Saddam’s Ba’athist party. It was also a place of incarceration, torture and often death for many of the oppressed Kurds for whom the cell walls were the most immediate outlet for expression. Broomberg and Chanarin approach photography as a form of conceptual ethnography. Much of their work has been concerned with the gathering of visual data relating to matters of human behaviour, often in places of political tension. Stylistically, they avoid the overtly creative, opting instead for a pared down, formal approach bordering on neutrality. They have no ‘signature style’. For them the world is a set of highly coded surfaces or stages of action. The camera is used to isolate these things, to cut them out for interpretation and reflection. Their camera usually looks at the subject head-on and centre frame, raising the promise of immediacy or ‘plain speaking’. Indeed photographically their images tell us quite a lot about what things look like. However the directness of their photographs is offset by the indirect and uncertain status of what it is they select and present to us.
What are we to make of these marks made by Kurdish prisoners? They are unlikely to be the free and uncensored expression of the oppressed, given their surveillance by guards. Most of the marks are images, not words. Some figurative, some are incomplete and abstract, others are suggestive but illusive sketches. Some of it seems like fantasy imagery, some of it looks like the bored marking of time. We cannott tell what marks were made when and in what order. History presents itself as a palimpsest. If you wish you can sense in these photographs echoes of Brassai’s surrealist images of scratched grafitti from 1930s Paris or Aaron Siskind’s photos from the 1950s of daubs and tears made in hommage to abstract expressionist painting. But the context is more pressing and more fraught. The traces recorded by these photographs may relate to past events in the history of the Red House but nothing is settled in Iraq yet. While the photographs are fixed forever, these may not be the last marks made on these walls – text by David Campany.
Every thing that happened, happened here first, in rehearsal. The invasion of Beirut, the first and second Intifada, the Gaza withdrawal, the Battle of Falluja; almost every one of Israel’s major military tactics in the Middle East over the past three decades was performed in advance here in Chicago, an artificial but realistic Arab town built by the Israeli Defence Force for urban combat training.
In June of 2008 Broomberg and Chanarin traveled to Afghanistan to be embedded with British Army units on the front line in Helmand Province. In place of their cameras they took a roll of photographic paper 50 meters long and 76.2 cm wide contained in a simple, lightproof cardboard box. They arrived during the deadliest month of the war. On the first day of their visit a BBC fixer was dragged from his car and executed and nine Afghan soldiers were killed in a suicide attack. The following day, three British soldiers died, pushing the number of British combat fatalities to 100. Casualties continued until the fifth day when nobody died. In response to each of these events, and also to a series of more mundane moments, such as a visit to the troops by the Duke of York and a press conference, all events a photographer would record, Broomberg and Chanarin instead unrolled a seven-meter section of the paper and exposed it to the sun for 20 seconds. The results – seen here – deny the viewer the cathartic effect offered up by the conventional language of photographic responses to conflict and suffering.
Working in tandem with this deliberate evacuation of content, are the circumstances of the works’ production, which amount to an absurd performance in which the British Army, unsuspectingly, played the lead role. Co-opted by the artists into transporting the box of photographic paper from London to Helmand, these soldiers helped in transporting the box from one military base to another, on Hercules and Chinooks, on buses, tanks and jeeps. In this performance, presented as a film, the box becomes an absurd, subversive object, its non-functionality sitting in quietly amused contrast to the functionality of the system that for a time served as its host. Like a barium test, the journey of the box became, when viewed from the right perspective, an analytical process, revealing the dynamics of the machine in its quotidian details, from the logistics of war to the collusion between the media and the military. The Day Nobody Died comprises of a series of radically non-figurative, unique, action-photographs, offering a profound critique of conflict photography in the age of embedded journalism and the current crisis in the concept of the engaged, professional witness.
The Afterlife series offers a re-reading of a controversial photograph taken in Iran on 6 August 1979. This remarkable image, taken just months after the revolution, records the execution of 11 blindfolded Kurdish prisoners by firing squad. The image, which captures the decisive moment the guns were fired, was immediately reproduced in newspapers and magazines across the world. The following year it was awarded a Pulitzer Prize and for the next 30 years its author was simply known as “Anonymous.” Only recently has the photographer’s identity been revealed as Jahangir Razmi, a commercial studio photographer working in the suburbs of Tehran. He was located and interviewed by Joshua Prager of the Wall Street Journal.
Broomberg and Chanarin sought out Razmi, and based on their discussions and along with an examination of the neglected images on the roll of film Razmi produced that day, they present a series of collages–an iconoclastic breakdown or dissection of the original image – that interrupts our relationship as spectators to images of distant suffering.
American Landscapes, takes the interiors of commercial photography studios across the United States as its ostensible subject. The artists reject the foreground and highlight instead the space in which images are literally “made.” In these occasionally abstract photographs the surfaces of walls, floors and ceilings junction along straight lines and parabolic curves to create the unspoiled white space known in the photography industry as Cycloramas. Broomberg & Chanarin refer to these spaces as ‘scenography for a free market economy’ or simply ‘Landscapes’. For just as the American West came to represent unbound possibility in the minds of early pioneers, so these studio walls act as a blank screen on which any sort of fantasy may be projected.
People in trouble laughing pushed to the ground. Soldiers leaning, pointing, reaching. Woman sweeping. Balloons escaping. Coffin descending. Boys standing. Grieving. Chair balancing. Children smoking. Embracing. Creatures barking. Cars burning. Helicopters hovering. Faces. Human figures. Shapes. Birds. Structures left standing and falling…
The Belfast Exposed Archive occupies a small room on the first floor at 23 Donegal Street and contains over 14,000 black-and-white contact sheets, documenting the Troubles in Northern Ireland. These are photographs taken by professional photo-journalists and ‘civilian’ photographers, chronicling protests, funerals and acts of terrorism as well as the more ordinary stuff of life: drinking tea; kissing girls; watching trains.
Belfast Exposed was founded in 1983 as a response to concern over the careful control of images depicting British military activity during the Troubles. Whenever an image in this archive was chosen, approved or selected, a blue, red or yellow dot was placed on the surface of the contact sheet as a marker. The position of the dots provided us with a code; a set of instructions for how to frame the photographs in this book. Each of the circular photographs shown on the previous pages reveals the area beneath these circular stickers; the part of each image that has been obscured from view the moment it was selected. Each of these fragments – composed by the random gesture of the archivist – offers up a self- contained universe all of its own; a small moment of desire or frustration or thwarted communication that is re-animated here after many years in darkness.
The marks on the surface of the contact strips – across the image itself – allude to the presence of many visitors. These include successive archivists, who have ordered, catalogued and re-catalogued this jumble of images. For many years the archive was also made available to members of the public, and sometimes they would deface their own image with a marker pen, ink or scissors. So, in addition to the marks made by generations of archivists, photo editors, legal aides and activists, the traces of these very personal obliterations are also visible. They are the gestures of those who wished to remain anonymous.
We would like to acknowledge and thank the original photographers Mervyn Smith, Sean Mc Kernan, Gerry Casey, Seamus Loughran and all other contributing photographers to Belfast Exposed’s archive.
War Primer is a collection of Bertolt Brecht’s newspaper clippings, each accompanied by a four-line poem that he called Photo-epigrams. It was the culmination of almost three decades of intermittent activity. The title deliberately recalls the textbooks used to teach elementary school children how to read; Brecht’s book is a practical manual, demonstrating how to “read” or “translate” press photographs. Brecht was profoundly uneasy about the affirmative role played by the medium within the political economy of capitalism and referred to press photographs as hieroglyphics in need of decoding.
Broomberg and Chanarin’s War Primer 2 is the belated sequel. While Brecht’s War Primer was concerned with images of the Second World War, War Primer 2 is concerned with the images of conflict generated by both sides of the so-called “War on Terror”. In Poor Monuments, rather than juxtapose the contemporary with the historical image, Broomberg and Chanarin have silkscreened an opaque red rectangle representing the contemporary image onto original pages from disassembled copies of The War Primer. Whilst the selected image is not pictured, the title of each individual work describes the source image and supplies a web address at which it can be found.
Adam Broomberg, born in South Africa in 1970. Oliver Chanarin, born in England in 1971. Live and work in London, England
Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin have been collaborating for over a decade.
They have produced six books which in different ways examine the language of documentary photography;TRUST (2000) accompanied their first solo-show at The Hasselbad Center; GHETTO (2003) a collection of their work as editors and principal photographers of Colors magazine, was exhibited at the Victoria & Albert Museum; MR. MKHIZE’S PORTRAIT (2004) documented South Africa ten years after apartheid and accompanied a solo show at The Photographers’ Gallery; CHICAGO (2006), an exploration of the militarization of contemporary Israel was published by SteidMACK in conjunction with a solo-show at The Stedelijk Museum; and FIG (2007), by Steidl/PHOTOWORKS, accompanied their solo exhibitions at the John Hansard Gallery and Impressions Gallery, UK. THE RED HOUSE (2007), produced in the cells below the former Ba’athist Party headquarters in Iraq, is published by Steidl Editions. Broomberg and Chanarin regularly teach workshops and give master classes in photography, as well as lecturing on the MA in Documentary Photography at LCC. They are the recipients of numerous awards, including the Vic Odden Award from the Royal Photographic Society and are trustees of the Photographers’ Gallery and Photoworks in the UK.
2013 To Photograph the Details of a Dark Horse in low light,Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg
2012 Portable Monuments, Galerie Gabriel Rolt, Amsterdam
2012 Poor Monuments, Paradise Row, Duseldorf
2011 Poor Monuments, Paradise Row, Duseldorf
2011 Broomberg & Chanarin present:Dora Fobert, Paradise Row, London
2011 People in Trouble Laughing Pushed to the Ground, Paradise Row, London
2011 Broomberg & Chanarin, Goodman Gallery Johannesburg, South Africa
2011 Broomberg & Chanarin, Galerie Karsten Greve, Cologne
2010 Prestige of Terror, Townhouse Gallery, Cairo
2010 Afterlife, Galeria Spafiska, Krakow, Poland
2009 Fig Impressions Gallery, UK
2009 The Red House, Brancolinigrimaldi, Italy
2009 Broomberg and Chanarin, Karsten Greve, France
2008 The Day Nobody Died, Paradise Row, UK
2008 Fig, FotoFreo, Australia
2007 Block 180, Brancolinigrimaldi, Italy
2007 Ghetto, Photomonth Festival, Poland
2007 Fig, John Hansard Gallery, UK
2006 Facts, Fictions and Stories, Stedelijk Museum, Netherlands
2006 Chicago, Q Arts, Format Photography Festival, UK
2005 Defying Distance, National Portrait Gallery, UK; Johannesburg, South Africa
2004 Mr. Mkhize’s Portrait The Photographers’ Gallery, UK
2003 Trusting the Truth, The Johannesburg Art Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa
2000 Trust The Hasselblad Centre, Sweden
2008 Deutscher Fotobuchpreis shortlist, Chicago, USA
2005-7 Arts Council of England Grant, England
2006 Photoworks Commission Grant
2004 Vic Odden Award,The Royal Photographic Society Awards, UK
2004 Best Documentary Book, Golden Light Awards, USA
2004 1ST Prize, GRIN (Gruppo Redattori Iconografici Nazionale) Awards, Italy 2004
2004 Best Book of the Year, Photo District News (PDN), USA
2003 Open Society Institute / Soros Foundation Grant
2013 The Holy Bible, MACK/AMC
2012 SPBH Book Club Vol 1 by Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin
2011 War Primer 2, MACK
2011 People in Trouble Laughing Pushed to the Ground, MACK
2007 The Red House, Steidl Editions
2007 Fig, Steidl / Photoworks
2006 Chicago, SteidlMACK
2004 Mr Mkhize’s Portrait, Trolley
2003 Ghetto, Trolley
2000 Trust, Westzone
2013 Memory of Fire, Julian Stallabrass, Photoworks
2012 Journal of Visual Culture, Ways of Seeing, Sage Publications
2012 Prix Pictet 04: Power, teNeues
2012 Documentary (Documents of Contemporary Art series) edited by Julian Stallabrass, Whitechapel Gallery
2011 Celine Condorelli, Support Structure, Sternberg Press
2011 Les Carnets du BAL #2, ’L’image-document, entre réalité et fiction’, éd. LE BAL
2011 Afterwards, Contemporary Photography Confronting the Past, Thames&Hudson
2011 Art Photography Now (Second Edition), Susan Bright, Thames & Hudson
2011 Critical dictionary, David Evans, Black Dog Publishing
2010 Photography Theory in Historical Perspective, Blackwell Publishing
2009 Frieze Projects 2006-2008, Frieze Publications
2009 Photo Wisdom: Master Photographers on Their Art, Chronicle Books
2009 The Edge of Vision: The Rise of Abstraction in Photography, Lyle Rexer, Aperture
2009 El Dorado: On the promise of Human Rights, Kerber Art, 2009
Speak for the Trees, Marquand Books
2008 The Endless City, Phaidon
2007 Photo Art, Thomas Seelig, DuMont
2007 Image Makers, Image Takers, Anne-Celiine Jaeger, Thames & Hudson
2005 Things As They Are, Mary Panzer, World Press Photo / Aperture / Chris Boot
2004 The Photograph As Contemporary Art, Charlotte Cotton, Thames & Hudson
2002 Life Style, Bruce Mau, Phaidon
2013 Deutsche Börse Photography Prize, The Photographers Gallery
2012 Roundtable, Gwangju Biennale
2012 Out of Focus: Photography, Saatchi Gallery
2012 Hijacked III: Australia United Kingdom, 2012, Big City Press and Keher Verlag Heidleberg Berlin
2011 Foam Album
2011 Interference, Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art & ICA
2011 Alias, Foundation for Visual Arts
2011 All That Fits: The Aesthetics of Journalism
2011 Serious Games: War, Media, Art. Mathuldenhohe Darmstadt
2010 Histories of the Present, Nottingham Contemporary
2010 Photomonth Festival Krakow
2009 Realta Manipolate, Palazzo Strozzi
2009 Embedded Art, Akademie dur Kunst
2009 Faces: The Portrait in the XX Century, Fondazione Ragghianti
2009 The Past in the Present – Questioning History, Dutch Photomuseum, Rotterdam
2007 Photomonth Festival Krakow
2006 Cities. Architecture and Society, The X Venice Biennale of Architecture, Italy
2006 Ecotopia: The Second ICP Triennial of Photography and Video
2006 So Now Then, Fotogallery and Hereford Photography Festival
2006 1+1=3 Collaboration In Recent British Portraiture, Fotofreo, Australia
2006 The Face Of Madness, Palazzo Magnani, Italy
2005 New Photographers 2006, Curated by Getty images, Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival
2004 Photo Espana 04’
2004 Unsettled, National Museum Of Photography, Denmark
2002 It’s Wrong To Wish On Space Hardware, Photoworks
2001 In A Lonely Place, National Museum Of Photography, Film And Television, UK
2013 Deutsche Börse Photography Prize 2013, Photographers’ Gallery, 19 April – 30 June 2013
2013 Curiosity Art & the Pleasures of Knowing, Curated by Brian Dillon, Turner Contemporary, Margate, 25 May – 15 September 2013
2013 Northern Ireland: 30 Years of PhotographyBelfast Exposed and The MAC, Belfast, 9 May – 7 July 2013
2013 Contact Photography FestivalTo Photograph The Details of a Dark Horse in Low Light, TPW, Toronto, Public Installation across Canada, 9 April –2 June 2013
2013 Tea with Nefertiti, Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris, France, 23 April – 8 September 2013
2013 Structures, Goodman Gallery Cape Town, 4 May – 1 June 2013
2012 Advance Notice, Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg
2012 Prima Materia, Belfast Exposed Gallery, Belfast
2012 Drawing Show, Paradise Row, London
2012 Hijacked III: Contemporary Photography from Australia and the UK, Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts, Perth
2012 Out of focus: Photography’Saatchi Gallery, London
2012 Of the Ordinary, The Philadelphia Photo Arts Center, Philadelphia
2012 Machines for Living, Yaffo 23, Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, Jerusalem
2012 Lines of Control, Cornell University’s Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art
2011 Moments of Reprieve: Representing Loss in Contemporary Photography, Tallinn Art Hall Gallery
2011 Decisive Moments: Uncertain Times, Gallery TPW, Toronto
2011 Collatoral Damage, CUC Centre, Liverpool
2011 Seeing is believing, KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin
2011 Summer Show, Galerie Gabriel Rolt, Amsterdam
2011 Eat Me, Goodman Gallery, Cape Town
2011 Alias, Krakow PhotoMonth
2011 Light II, Galerie Gabriel Rolt, Amsterdam
2011 History Painting Now, Art Sensus, UK
2011 All that Fits: The Aesthetics of Journalism, QUAD Gallery, Derby, UK
2011 SERIOUS GAMES – Krieg – Medien – Kunst, Mathildenhöhe, Darmstadt, Germany
2011 Antiphotojournalism, Foam Photography Museum, Amsterdam
2010 Antiphotojournalism, La Virreina Centre de la Imatge, Barcelona, Spain
2010 Chicago, Home Works V, Beirut Arts Center, Lebanon
2010 Bringing the War Home, Impressions Gallery, Bradford, UK
2010 Afghanistan, Wolverhampton Art Gallery, UK
2010 Le Garage International Photography Festival of Arles, France
2010 The Marks We Make, The Goodman Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa
2010 Gongoozler, Grand Union, Birmingham, UK.
2009 The Past in the Present – Questioning History, Dutch Photomuseum, Rotterdam, Holland
2009 Embedded Art, Akademie der Kunst, Berlin
2009 The Photographic Portrait in the 20th Century, Fondazione Ragghainti, Italy
2008 Borderspaces, Schwartz Gallery, London, England
2008 The Sublime Image of Destruction, The Brighton Photo Biennial, England
2008 La Terra et Nous, La Cite des Sciences et de l’Industrie, France
2008 The Photographic Portrait in the 20th Century, Fondazione Ragghainti, Italy
2008 Echo Wanted, Galerie Karsten Greve, France
2008 Mini-Israel and Bambi, Screening at The Gate Cinema, UK
2008 East Wing VIII, The Courtauld Institute, UK
2008 Sleeping and Dreaming, The Wellcome Trust, UK
2007 Block 180, The Hospital, UK
2007 Zelda Rubinstein, A Group Show. Paradise Row, UK
2007 On the Wall, Aperture Foundation, USA
2007 1+1=3, Collaboration in recent British portraiture, Australian Centre of Photography, Australia
2006 Ecotopia: the Second ICP Triennal of Photography and Video, USA Global
2006 Cities: the 10th International Biennale of Architecture, Italy
2006 1+1=3, Collaboration in recent British portraiture, Freemantle Arts Centre,Australia
2006 The Face of Madness, Palazzo Magnani, Italy
2006 New Photographers 2006, Museum voor Fotografie, Belgium
2006 Unsettled, Durban Museum, Durban, South Africa
2005 Unsettled, Reykjavik Museum of Photography, Iceland
2005 Unsettled, The National Museum of Photography, Denmark
2005 Unsettled, Kristanstads Konsthall, Sweden
2005 Ghetto, Aranjuez. Photo Espana, Spain
2004 History in the Making, Circulo de Bellas Artes, PhotoEspaña, Spain
2003 Stepping in and out: Contemporary Documentary Photography, The Victoria & Albert Museum, London, England
2002 It’s Wrong to Wish on Space Hardware, Gardner Arts Centre, Brighton University, UK
2001 In a Lonely Place, The National Museum of Photography, Film and Television, UK