Deutsche Borse Photography Prize 2013: Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin, War Primer 2

Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin I Plate 10 2011

Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin I Plate 10 2011


Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin, photographers


Deutsche Börse Photography Prize exhibition – shortlisted for ‘War Primer 2.’

Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin I Plate 23 2012

Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin I Plate 23 2012

Decisive Moment?

The seamless juxtaposition of the aerial shot of a World War II bomb exploding with the well-known shot of the 9/11 Twin Towers beneath it. The plumes of smoke in each converge and make the visual connection between these two images. Underneath the photographs is a poem from Bertolt Brecht’s original War Primer book (1955) acting as a comment. The lines refer to the original photograph but Broomberg and Chanarin have made the words poignantly relevant for the twin Towers image. This is the concept of the whole book – each new photograph is superimposed over the original but the words add poignancy to the overlaid, contemporary image each time.


‘Under-production.’ Whether photographs are ‘under-produced’ naturally or consciously, it is a distinct visual treatment that we see running from art photography through to ads for Robinson’s orange squash on TV! This, of course adds ‘Truthfulness’. Broomberg and Chanarin’s imagery almost feels like a charity advertising campaign, warning people against the atrocity of war. Its credibility is heightened by the fact that its appearance as a piece of communication feels thrown together.

Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin I Plate 26 2012

Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin I Plate 26 2012

Which Image? Which Room?

I would hang the Turkey image in my kitchen, showing George Bush serving a Thanksgiving turkey to the troops. It’s superimposed over an original black and white war image and is an absurd photograph orchestrated for the world’s media, simply pointing up that the only turkey in the shot is the one carrying the platter!

Press Image I DBPP 13 I Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin I Plate 21 2011

One question for the Image Maker?

Did you struggle with the project after you had completed 5 or so of the images? I ask only because there is a sense, like ads in a long running campaign that has gone on too long, that after seeing a few of these images, you feel you have seen the idea already and every subsequent execution is a minor variation on the theme.


About Author

Ashley Jouhar is the Creative Director of Image Source. He has worked as a senior creative in the photography industry for over 12 years, previously as Deputy Director of Photography at Getty Images. He is also a photographer in his own right, shooting lifestyle, documentary and portraiture for a wide range of clients. Before turning to photography full time, Ashley worked as a senior Art Director and Group Head at McCann Erickson, London, creating award winning advertising for Bacardi, Shredded Wheat, Black & Decker, Medecins Sans Frontieres and Birds Eye, amongst others.

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