Category Archives: Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin

A5: Project 2: The Archive: Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin

Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin work together frequently. They were born in South Africa but Chanarin was reared in the UK from the age of five. Both work in London now.  They are distant cousins and worked as photographers and directors at Colors Magazine. They have spent more than twenty years investigating the relationship between images, truth and power. They have used photojournalism, work as curators and archives to create their projects. (1)

They founded Chopped Liver Press to print and market their books. They have published about fourteen books and received many awards. Their work has been acquired by many of the big museums and they have exhibited both as solo and in group exhibitions.

They work tirelessly to demonstrate that the viewer of images must always be aware that he or she is being manipulated by many forces. Starting with the photographer and what he ‘chooses’ to include or exclude, followed by the publishers and or editors who bring the material to the public and last but not least the political forces who use and abuse images for their own political ends.

Belfast Exposed was founded in 1983 as a response to concern over the careful control of images depicting British military activity during the Troubles

Whenever an image in this archive was chosen, approved or selected, a blue, red or yellow dot was placed on the surface of the contact sheet as a marker (1)

This archived collection consisted of 14,000 images made by both professional and amateur photographers. The images were written on, cut up or defaced by the subjects themselves or the archivists. These images were used or unused to tell the story the authorities wanted to be told or withheld if they were judged not to uphold a political point of view. Dots were placed, at random, on the negatives or images. Bloomberg and Chanarin decided that what lay under some of these dots created a narrative in itself. These round images were separated from their context but displayed as a group. They told their own story. Some of these images can be see here (2)

Screen Shot 2016-05-30 at 06.58.41  Screen Shot 2016-05-30 at 06.58.26 Screen Shot 2016-05-30 at 06.58.14

Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin

My selection further restricts the story…….

One of the duo’s recent projects has them using the London Archive of Modern Warfare to create a version of the King James Holy Bible. In another they were embedded in Afghanistan but instead of taking images of the war they exposed a roll of photographic paper to light, a strip per day. The result shouts louder than any made image, it is the unmade images we have to imagine. This brave work continues. It is educating us not to be ‘taken in’ by images to which we are exposed. Unlike the ridiculuous controvrsey raging about Steve McCurry’s alterations to his images. The alterations appear to me to be harmless even amateurish. (4)


  1. Image, Author, Failure, Chance : BROOMBERG & CHANARIN. 2016.

    Image, Author, Failure, Chance : BROOMBERG & CHANARIN. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 30 May 2016].

  2. People in Trouble (Dots) : BROOMBERG & CHANARIN. 2016. People in Trouble (Dots) : BROOMBERG & CHANARIN. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 29 May 2016]. Saatchi Gallery. 2016. Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin – Artist’s Profile –
  3. The Saatchi Gallery. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 29 May 2016].
  4. PetaPixel. 2016. Botched Steve McCurry Print Leads to Photoshop Scandal. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 30 May 2016].
  5. YouTube. 2016. The Watermelon Woman – YouTube. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 30 May 2016].
  6. Archives and Creative Practice. 2016. Zoe Leonard & Cheryl Dunye — Archives and Creative Practice. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 30 May 2016]
  7. CHERYL DUNYE | Introducing Fae Richards: Excerpts from The Watermelon Woman – GLYPHS | ACTS OF INSCRIPTION. 2016. CHERYL DUNYE | Introducing Fae Richards: Excerpts from The Watermelon Woman – GLYPHS | ACTS OF INSCRIPTION. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 30 May 2016].
  8. Wikipedia. 2016. Sweet and Lowdown – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 30 May 2016].