Deutsche Börse Photography Prize 2013
"Right from the start, almost every appearance he made was catastrophic… Catastrophe is his means of operation, and his central instrument of governance." — Adi Ophir
Violence, calamity and the absurdity of war are recorded extensively within The Archive of Modern Conflict, the largest photographic collection of its kind in the world. For their most recent work, Holy Bible, Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin mined this archive with philosopher Adi Ophir’s central tenet in mind: that God reveals himself predominantly through catastrophe and that power structures within the Bible correlate with those within modern systems of governance.
The format of Broomberg and Chanarin’s illustrated Holy Bible mimics both the precise structure and the physical form of the King James Version. By allowing elements of the original text to guide their image selection, the artists explore themes of authorship, and the unspoken criteria used to determine acceptable evidence of conflict.
Inspired in part by the annotations and images Bertolt Brecht added to his own personal bible, Broomberg and Chanarin’s publication questions the clichés at play within the visual representation of conflict.
“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.“ — Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin
"Beyond the much-deserved awards and praise, this duo’s provocative practice is layered with thoughtful and challenging concepts. This, one of their most compelling works, is a surprisingly smart exploration of religion, death and conflict. Holy Bible is a testimony to catastrophe and a superb example of an artists mastery of the medium." — Tom Claxton