Adam Broomberg (born 1970, Johannesburg, South Africa) and Oliver Chanarin (born 1971, London, UK) are artists living and working in London.
Politics, religion, war and history, associated with such imagery, to create new responses and pathways towards an understanding of the human condition. Trained as photographers they now work across diverse media, reacting to the photo journalistic experience of being embedded with the British Army in Afghanistan (and the controlled access to front line action therein) with an absurd, conceptual riposte, composed of a series of abstract, six-metre swathes of photographic paper exposed to the sun for 20 seconds, for the work The Day Nobody Died (2008).
Broomberg & Chanarin’s debut solo exhibition at Lisson Gallery consists of new photographic, moving image and per-formative works that collectively explore tensions between discipline and chance, precision and chaos, empathy and the involuntary pleasure of watching the pain of others.
Central to the show is a new film work, Rudiments (2015) in which the artists have collaborated with a group of young army cadets at a military camp on the outskirts of Liverpool. Whether Broomberg & Chanarin have staged the scenes we observe or have simply documented the camp’s routine practice remains unclear. The young soldiers-in-training are seen marching, drumming and obeying instructions – enacting a collective, authoritarian form of obedience – with varying degrees of success. The absurd and disturbing introduction of a ‘bouffon’ – a dark clown whose performance teeters on vulgarity – radically challenges the martial codes supposedly being taught and interrupts their carefully choreographed routines. The children also learn how to pratfall, ‘play dead’ or deliver convincing blows to one another, performing comic actions that are seemingly at odds with the hierarchical structures of the army. Accompanying the film are two large-scale photographic series, the first of which depicts bullets that have collided head-on and fused in mid-air. These improbable, perhaps even slapstick objects were originally found on the battlefields of the American Civil War and are said to have effectively saved the lives of two soldiers. For their second new series, Broomberg & Chanarin have photographed military grade prisms, shards of optical glass that are used in the sights of precision weaponry, but which also relate to the lenses found in the same photographic apparatus they use. Violence is transmitted through these materials: collided lumps of lead and the shear edges of crystal glass. The exhibition will also feature a live performance with two drummers, one snare drum, one chair, two clocks and a lead carpet, in which the drummers play a drum roll for the six-week duration of the exhibition, without interruption. The Lisson Gallery exhibition is an extension of main shows.
Ph: Jack Hems
@Broomberg & Chanin, Courtesy Lisson Gllery, London
52 Bell Street – London
25 Sept – 31 Oct