6 DICEMBER 2017
Broomberg & Chanarin
DON’T START FROM THE GOOD OLD THINGS
The works of the duo Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin (born in Johannesburg in 1970 and in London in 1971 respectively) are based on the assumption and questioning of different professional roles and practices, from photojournalism—which they undertake as a necessarily risky activity in Afghanistan—to a type of archaeology of modernity and “humor” that traces back through the strata of events in a given place.
“Our lives are so consumed by images that it’s important to understand the way they work: emotionally, politically, culturally, economically,”: this will be the starting point of the dialogue between Adam Broomberg and Urs Stahel at the MAST.
Although they began by taking photographs for magazines and newspapers, their particular approach to conflict soon pushed them into a gallery context. “We began to feel uncomfortable about how naive our subjects were about the power of an image, that a photograph is a piece of currency that has an afterlife. We wanted to make work that critiqued that.”
In a conceptual reflection on the role and value of the image, over the years their approach, tackling politics, religion, war and history, has combined the clarity of documentary photography with the ambiguity deriving from the presumption of reality with which photography is traditionally associated. Broomberg & Chanarin question the function of photography in relation to conflicts today, in a society saturated with images, where traditional photographic reportage has lost much of its original meaning, having been superseded by digital technology and by the need to bend to the dictates of politics, through embedment and self-censorship.