Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin are showing “Divine Violence” at The Goodman Gallery in Johannesburg at the moment to mixed reviews. Their work is a mash up of the Bible, and has made waves in South Africa.
Broomberg and Chanarin aim to trace the intimate relationship between photography, acts of catastrophe and state power in their new exhibition.
As recipients of the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize 2013 for their publication “War Primer 2” and the International Centre for Photography Infinity Award 2014, their work is certainly winning international acclaim.
While visiting the Bertolt Brecht archives in Berlin, Broomberg and Chanarin discovered a remarkable artefact: Brecht’s personal bible. The object caught their attention because it had a photograph of a racing car stuck to the cover. Inside the pages they discovered that the German playwright had used his bible as a notebook, pasting in images, underlining phrases and making notes in the columns.
This was the inspiration for their own illustrated Holy Bible, which they realised first in book format and published in 2013. It is now on show at Goodman Gallery as a full-scale exhibition. For this project, the artists have combined images taken from The Archive of Modern Conflict – the largest archive in the world dedicated to images of war and conflict – with phrases in the text which they have underlined in red ink.
A short essay by the Israeli philosopher Adi Ophir underpins the work. In his writing, Ophir observes that God reveals himself in the bible predominantly through acts of catastrophe, and considers the biblical text as a parable for the growth of modern governance.
Adam Broomberg are Oliver Chanarin are artists living and working in London. Together they have had numerous international exhibitions including The Museum of Modern Art, Tate Britain, Tate Liverpool, The Gwagnju Biennale, the Stedelijk Museum, the International Center of Photography, KW Institute for Contemporary Art, The Photographers Gallery, Mathaf Arab Museum of Modern Art and Museo Jumex.
Broomberg & Chanarin are Visiting Fellows at the University of the Arts London. Their work is represented in major public and private collections including Tate Modern, The Museum of Modern Art, the Stedelijk Museum, Victoria and Albert Museum, Musee de l’Elysee, The International Center of Photography, and the Art Gallery of Ontario.
All images courtesy the artists and the Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg