Max Colson: Tales

Photojournalism MA student at the LCC

Posts Tagged ‘usa

Simon Norfolk at the Tate Modern (a Tate video)

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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.

Points of confluence

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I brought Taryn Simon’s latest project Contraband to the open tutorial session with Paul earlier this week. Basically Simon installed herself at two locations where contraband objects gather after being confiscated from passengers and packages before they enter the USA (these locations are the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Federal Inspection Site and the U.S. Postal Service International Mail Facility at John F. Kennedy International Airport, New York). It’s pretty interesting and you can check quite a few photographs from the series on this interactive web page here. Simon’s website also has a summary of the project here.

I find Simon’s identification of these locations absolutely masterful. Not only has she identified a point at which visually intriguing objects gather, but she knew that by cataloguing these items they would become symbols of something that is much larger than the physical situation in which they were photographed; I honestly find that kind of photographic perception to be as exciting as the photographs themselves.

Bird Corpse

USA American Viagra

Sala, Pork Fat

Perfume and Cologne (counterfeit)

Written by Max Colson

March 4, 2011 at 12:30 pm