Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin

(South Africa/United Kingdom | United Kingdom)

Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin


Parisian Laundry
September 10 to October 11, 2015

Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin are best known for their critical examination of the way we imagine conflict and violence: their work unravels the skein of uses and contexts of the image, and they reveal that neither are technologies of representation neutral nor are archives innocent.

In 2011, Broomberg and Chanarin visited the Bertolt Brecht Archiv in Berlin, where they found a copy of the Bible in which Brecht had inserted images and annotations. This discovery was the basis for the exhibition project Divine Violence (2013) and the acclaimed art book Holy Bible (2013), in which passages of sacred history are interspersed with evocative images extracted from the millions of documents in the Archive of Modern Conflict. Each work consists of consecutive pages of a Bible chapter with underlined paragraphs and pasted-in photographs of war, genocide, destruction, and catastrophe, alongside other seemingly unrelated photographs of sex and leisure activities. This forced marriage, the intrusion of alien images into the text, exposes the supposedly neutral chronicle of the interactions between God and his Chosen People and shows – as Israeli philosopher Adi Ophir (another inspiration for the artists) affirms – that the power structures of modern systems of governance seem to derive from the fateful framework of the Old Testament.

To the beat of this Brechtian methodology, Broomberg and Chanarin summon the images to take on new meaning, transcending the forensic status of the photographs to transform them into the vigilant sentinels of ghosts and crimes.


Adam Broomberg was born in 1970 in Johannesburg, and Oliver Chanarin was born in 1971 in London. They both live and work in London. Together, they have had numerous international exhibitions in institutions such as the Goodman Gallery in Cape Town (2015), FOAM Photography Museum in Amsterdam (2015, 2014), Tate Modern in London (2014), the FotoMuseum in Antwerp (2014), the Museum of Modern Art in New York (2013), Paradise Row in Düsseldorf (2011), and La Virreina Centre de la Imatge in Barcelona (2010). Their work is in major collections, including Tate Modern in London, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the Musée de l’Elysée in Lausanne, and the International Center of Photography in New York. They received the ICP Infinity Award 2014 for their publication Holy Bible, and the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize in 2013 for War Primer 2. They are represented by Lisson Gallery in London and Goodman Gallery in Johannesburg.

Portrait: © Basil Davidson