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Impressions Gallery

exhibitions: past


Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin

22nd Nov - 18th Jan 2009

Artists Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin create a contemporary take on the Victorian ‘cabinet of curiosities’ in this collection of over eighty photographs made by them over the last three years.

The exhibition features an astonishing range of still lives, portraits and landscape images made both in the UK and abroad. Subjects include fantastical objects from museum collections such as a ‘Merman’ skeleton, a single leaf blown from a tree in Tel Aviv by the blast of a suicide bomb, the hand of the world’s tallest living man, and the plastic bag collection of ‘Aunty Ethnie’, a relative of the artists.

Displayed and numbered in a pseudo-scientific way, each image has an accompanying caption written by the artists – hence the title Fig., an abbreviation of the word figure, a term used in museum catalogues. These personal captions allow them to ingeniously connect their disparate subjects, often in witty, unexpected, and moving ways.

Broomberg and Chanarin are clearly interested in tracing the links between photography and the colonial impulse to acquire, map and collect the world. They say, “the history of photography is intimately bound up with the idea of colonial power, and documentary photographers today have a worrying amount in common with the collector/adventurers of past eras. As unreliable witnesses, we have gathered ‘evidence’ of our experiences and present our findings here; a muddle of fact and fantasy”.

Fig. was commissioned by Photoworks in association with John Hansard Gallery and funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and Arts Council England.



Exhibition resources

Click here to download an information sheet about the exhibition (pdf 224kb)
Click here to download a large print information sheet about the exhibition (pdf 256 kb)

Fig.48 Discarded Photographs, Kigale, Rwanda

Fig.48 Discarded Photographs, Kigale, Rwanda

Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin

Click on thumbnail below to enlarge

Fig.48 Discarded Photographs, Kigale, Rwanda Fig.4 Guiseppe Magri's Accident, Sicily, Italy Fig.24 John, Casualty Union Volunteer, London, UK Fig.63 Red-Flanked Steenbuck Head, Wolverhampton, UK Fig.59 Musée d' Histoire Naturelle, N'Djaména, Chad Fig.15 Scale Rule, Booth Museum, Brighton, UK Fig.14 Leonid Stadnyk's Hand, Podoliantsy, Ukraine Fig.10 Basil Davidson's Magazine Clippings, Booth Museum, Brighton, UK Fig.28 Plinth, Booth Museum, Brighton, UK Fig.76 Ficus Religiosa, Tel Aviv, Israel