Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Between the front lines

A visit to the Photographer's Gallery some months ago imbedded an impression (on both brain and retina) so great it still burns to this day - Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin's War Primer 2 stopped everyone at their tracks as they walked past the scattered glass boxes containing some of the 100 published books. It came as no surprise that the London-based duo won the Deutsche Börse photography prize this year: the series of overlaid photographs dug up from the latent realms of the internet relate starkly with the Second World War newspaper clippings. The four line poems that accompany each set of images bond them together and profoundly highlight the lack of progress we've made since the terrorising war years. Each one of the 69 images is a window into a frame of alternative truth masked by today's media - it airs out aspects of prevailing military action which are no more sincere and humane than they were then. Bertolt Brecht’s 1955 original collated clippings of mainstream photojournalism and peeled back their many possible connotations to reveal the Marxist truth through the four line photo-epigrams. The title itself depicts children's schoolbooks which taught them to read - Brecht taught the public to read between the lines of the 'capitalist' photography of the mass media and debunked the cruelty of narcissistic warfare. Broomberg and Chanarin impart Brecht's work to today's 'War On Terror' (aka Bush's capricious game of toy soldiers which many are yet to cease playing) - each image, copiously searched, selected, cut out and stuck in by hand coalesces parts of history together and cries out for the need for progress and change.