Max Colson: Tales

Photojournalism MA student at the LCC

Simon Norfolk at the Tate Modern (a Tate video)

with 6 comments

Bullet-scarred outdoor cinema at the Palace of Culture in the Karte Char district of Kabul - Simon Norfolk

Bullet-scarred outdoor cinema at the Palace of Culture in the Karte Char district of Kabul, 2002, Simon Norfolk

“I’m trying to photograph my disappointment. When I came [to Afghanistan] in 2001 I was angry with what the Americans had done, I thought it was a mistake…Ten sorry miserable years have gone by, half a trillion dollars have been spent on this country and it looks worse than it was…It’s a disappointment of ten years of warfare. Tens of thousands of Afghans murdered. Lots of Americans and Europeans killed as well. Billions wasted and nothing achieved: nothing, nothing, nothing achieved…” – Simon Norfolk

If you’re reading this in the UK you may have seen that the Guardian did a big feature on Simon Norfolk’s new Afghanistan photographs and their relation to John Burke’s Afghanistan photography in the Weekend magazine a couple of weeks ago. Personally I think Simon Norfolk is easily one of the most important photographers around right now (and if you don’t agree with that then you must agree regarding photojournalism at least).

Here is a 17 minute video produced by the Tate in advance of his exhibition of new work at the Tate Modern which is entitled, Burke + Norfolk: Photographs From The War In Afghanistan. Working on the understanding that Afghanistan has been the location of an imperalist intrusion for many decades Norfolk has produced a collection of photographs which link the current war with those from its past and asks the powerful question (amongst others): What has changed?

Narrated by the artist himself this video explains the work, puts the current Afghanistan war in the context of the country’s war torn history, and likens  the “billion pictures per hour” photojournalism that is pouring out of the country right now to a “sewer pipe with a crack in the side of it”. He also  comments that “beauty is a useful tool.” He then says lots more.

This is rational, conscious, and incisively critical photography of the highest order. Really, really worth watching.

6 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Thanks for the link. You just got me really wanting to come over for the talk next week.

  2. Thanks for the link Max. It’s another side of war photography, a very important one. It’s always so important to listen to a photograher talking about his work, feeling his passion and seeing how he uses to work.

    Christina Vazou

    May 7, 2011 at 7:45 am

  3. Simon come, I’m sure it’ll be worth it!

    Max Colson

    May 7, 2011 at 7:59 am

  4. I have always admired photographers that were unique in the ways of conveying their message. Simon Norfolk is a stark example. It takes a courage to report about issues that are burning in your mind with a drastically new approach or – in this case – incorporate the tactics that have been used to further increase the fact of repeated mistakes over centuries…Thanks for posting the video Max, good preparation for Wednesday Tate debate.

    Veronika Lukasova

    May 9, 2011 at 9:46 am

  5. brilliant inspiring video and photographs /


    October 21, 2011 at 1:41 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: