Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin, photographers
Deutsche Börse Photography Prize exhibition – shortlisted for ‘War Primer 2.’
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.
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!
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.