The London-based artists Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin won the Deutsche Börse photography prize on the 10th of June with their fascinating 2012 book War Primer 2 which was published very limited to only 100 copies by Mack Books. They were presented with the £30,000 award by the film director Mike Figgis at the Photographers’ Gallery in London. In the book Broomberg and Chanarin rework Bertolt Brecht’s original War Primer from 1955 using internet screenshots and mobile phone pictures to comment on the role of photography in the “war on terror.” Beside receiving praise for War Primer 2 this month, the duo also released another extremely fascinating book called The Holy Bible. In the publication the provocateurs have carefully overlaid images from The Archive of Modern Conflict onto each page of the Bible. The duo believes that their selected images are representative of the horror and madness of global catastrophes (Western) society has become insensitive to, due to the filtration of those images by mainstream media.
When interviewed by Time the artists have stated on the realization and choices made in the creation of The Holy Bible:
When we were researching Brecht’s work in Berlin we stumbled across his personal copy of the Holy Bible. It caught our attention because it has a photograph of a racing car glued to the cover…
Just like the War Primer, our illustrated bible is broadly about photography and it’s preoccupation with catastrophe. Brecht was deeply concerned about the use of photographs in newspapers. He was so suspicious of press images that he referred to them as hieroglyphics in need of deciphering or decoding. We share this concern.
When asked how the artists see themselves when it comes to their critical position they take towards society as artists, Broomberg and Chanarin state to be more interested in the world than the art world focussing on their specific subject. In our eyes the duo, despite this focus, still succeeds in finding an inspiring and fitting form for their work.
Keep an eye out for the fascinating work by Broomberg and Chanarin.