One of family of looters removing the arm from Saddam's statue from the forecourt of the old Air Force Headquarters. Over three days they smashed the statue with hammers and they sold the poor quality brass at 250 dinars per kilo Baghdad 19-27 April 2003
40” x 50”
Digital chromogenic print
Courtesy Michael Hoppen Gallery, London
The Sublime Image of Destruction
3 October 2008 – 4 January 2009
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In the 1990s, photography rose to unprecedented prominence in the museum, with many art photographers making very large, finely resolved prints to hang on gallery walls; among the many genres that emerged was one about the depiction of war. Art photographers followed the armies, not usually working on the front line but in the wake of the destructive forces, documenting, often with large-format cameras, the image of destruction. Some of them, such as Simon Norfolk (UK), had been photojournalists who turned to this form of art photography. Others, such as Paul Seawright, came to this work that sits close to reportage, from art practices informed by the confluence of photography and conceptualism.
Many of these images deliberately draw on the visual traditions of the sublime and establish a relationship with the tradition of painting. They seek to make pictures that are quieter, more resolved and thought through registers of the destruction of war than the quotidian and news-driven work of the photojournalists. At the same time, the use of large cameras encourages in this genre deportment, stateliness and distance, literal and sometimes emotional, from its subject.
Norfolk’s lyrical and delicately coloured work makes reference to the landscapes with ruins of artists such as Poussin and Claude Lorrain, while Seawright’s bleaker images of mine fields and ruins in Afghanistan depict a landscape in which the dangers are unrepresentable and ungraspable. Broomberg and Chanarin question the boundaries between the actual and the imagined in their depictions of the state of Israel, from the fortified settlements that sit newly minted in a landscape scarred to receive them, to the mocked-up towns that serve as training grounds for the Israeli Defence Force. This exhibition will raise questions about the political meaning and efficacy of these images.
Exhibiting artists: Broomberg and Chanarin, Simon Norfolk and Paul Seawright
This exhibition is part of the Brighton Photo Biennial 2008: Memory of Fire, War of Images and images of War, curated by Julian Stallabrass.
C print on fuji crystal paper mounted on aluminium
121.9 x 147.3 cm
Courtesy the artist and Kerlin Gallery, Dublin
Paul Seawright is a photographer who has drawn heavily on his Northern Irish background to produce searching photographic investigations of aspects of its fraught political terrain, as in his Orange Order and Police Force series from the early 1990s. In his recent work, Seawright has moved away from an overtly Irish context, focusing on what he has termed a 'generic malevolent landscape' represented by the uninhabited spaces at the edge of cities and forests throughout Europe. These images take the viewer from bright, bleached vacant lots to corners of almost complete darkness, lit only by the dim, ambient light of street lamps, where the city merges with the forest. Seawright has exhibited in many venues throughout Europe and North and South America including the the Tate, London, the Nederlands Foto Instituut, Rotterdam and the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo. His solo exhibitions include shows at the Photographers' Gallery, London, the Imperial War Museum, London, Milton Keynes Gallery and the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin.
Awards include the prestigious Ville de Paris Artist Award in 1999 and the Irish Museum of Modern Art/Glen Dimplex Prize in 1997. He is represented in the collections of the Tate, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Irish Museum of Modern Art, the British Council, the Imperial War Museum, London, the Art Institute of Chicago and the International Center of Photography, New York among others and in numerous private collections.
Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin
120 x 150 cm each
C-type Print on aluminum
Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin/Paradise Row
Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin have been collaborating for over a decade. They have produced five books which in different ways explore 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 Photographers’ Gallery; Chicago (2006), an exploration of contemporary Israel was published by steidlMACK in conjunction with a solo show at The Stedelijk Museum; and Fig (2007), also published by Steidl, to accompany solo exhibitions at the John Hansard Gallery and Impressions Gallery.
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 members of the board of trustees for Photoworks and The Photographers’ Gallery.
The North Gate of the city, the scene of fierce fighting during the invasion
Baghdad 19-27 April 2003
40” x 50”
Digital chromogenic print
Courtesy Michael Hoppen Gallery, London
Simon Norfolk is a landscape photographer whose work is a probing the meaning of the word ‘battlefield’ in all its forms. His work has been widely recognised: he has won Le Prix Dialogue at Les Rencontres d'Arles in 2005; The Infinity Prize from The International Center of Photography in 2004; the Foreign Press Club of America Award in 2003; and he was winner of the European Publishing Award, 2002. In 2003 he was short-listed for the Citibank Prize now known as the Deutsche Böurse Prize.
He has produced three monographs of his work including Afghanistan:chronotopia (2002) which was published in five languages.
He has work held in major collections such as The Museum of Fine Art, Houston and Deutsche Böurse Art Collection.
About the Brighton Photo Biennial...
Brighton Photo Biennial is an ambitious celebration of international photographic practice committed to stimulating critical debate on photography in all its forms.
Brighton Photo Biennial 2008, entitled, Memory of Fire: the War of Images and Images of War, is curated by Julian Stallabrass and explores photographic images of war, their making, use and circulation, and their currency in contemporary society. Stallabrass presents photography, film and online material produced and circulated in time of war, and explores how images have been shaped by the changing social and political conditions from the Vietnam era to the present. The exhibitions will include images produced by photojournalists, artists and non-professionals.
For this third edition, the Biennial extends its geographical boundaries to include nine venues across the South East coast from Bexhill on Sea to Portsmouth. Three venues, including the major exhibition, are in Brighton. Free admission to all exhibitions.
Finally, BPB 2008 reaches the vast online community through a new website that functions as a platform for ideas and discussion around the theme of photography and conflict. Participate and have your say by posting a comment at: www.bpb.org.uk/2008*
(*The De La Warr Pavilion is not responsible for the content of external websites.)