Tackling politics, religion, war and history, Broomberg & Chanarin prise open the fault lines associated with such imagery, creating new responses and pathways towards an understanding of the human condition. Trained as photographers they now work across diverse media, reacting to the photojournalistic experience of being embedded with the British Army in Afghanistan (and the controlled access to frontline 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). Through painstaking restitution of found objects or imagery, for example the long-lost set of the film Catch-22 which was exhumed by the artists in Mexico for their work Dodo (2014), Broomberg & Chanarin enact an archeology or exorcism of aesthetic and ideological constructs behind the accepted tropes of visual culture, laying bare its foundations for fresh interpretation. Language and literature play an increasing role as material for their multifaceted work, from the philosophical underpinnings in Bertolt Brecht’s War Primer to the sacred texts of the Holy Bible itself, both books having been refashioned and recreated by the artists in their own ambiguous, combatant image.
Adam Broomberg (born 1970, Johannesburg, South Africa) and Oliver Chanarin (born 1971, London, UK) are artists living and working in London. They are professors of photography at the Hochschule für bildende Künste (HFBK) in Hamburg, Germany and The Royal Academy of Art (KABK) at The Hague in The Netherlands. Together they have had numerous solo exhibitions at institutions including Centre Pompidou, Paris, France (2018); Hasselblad Foundation, Gothenburg, Sweden (2017); C/O Berlin, Berlin, Germany (2016); the Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, MD, USA (2016); the Centre for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle, Warsaw, Poland (2015); The Freud Museum, London, UK (2015); ICA Studio, London, UK (2015); Jumex Foundation, Mexico City, Mexico (2014); FotoMuseum, Antwerp, Belgium (2014); Mostyn, Llandudno, UK (2014); Townhouse, Cairo, Egypt (2010); Musée de l’Elysee, Lausanne, France (2009) and the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands (2006). Their participation in international group shows includes the 'British Art Show 8' (2015-2017); 'Conflict, Time, Photography' at Tate Modern, London, UK; Museum Folkwang, Essen, Germany (2015); Shanghai Biennale , China (2014); Museum of Modern Art, New York, USA (2014); Tate Britain , London, UK (2014); Mathaf Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha, Qatar (2013); Gwanju Biennale, South Korea (2012) and the KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin, Germany (2011). Their work is held in major public and private collections including Tate, MoMA, Stedelijk, the V&A, the International Center of Photography, Musée de l'Élysée, the Art Gallery of Ontario, and the Cleveland Museum of Art. Major awards include the ICP Infinity Award (2014) for Holy Bible, and for War Primer 2, the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize in 2013 and the Photo Text Book Award at the Arles Photo Festival in 2018.