Broomberg and Chanarin : Divine Violence

Date posted: June 23, 2014

Holy Bible by Broomberg & Chanarin, MACK/AMC, 2013.

Holy Bible by Broomberg & Chanarin, MACK/AMC, 2013.

Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin

Divine Violence

Exhibition Dates: 19th July – 2nd November 2014

MOSTYN presents, in partnership with Artes Mundi, the UK premiere of Broomberg & Chanarin’s new body of work Divine Violence. Inspired by the annotations and images that playwright Bertolt Brecht added to his own personal bible, and mining The Archive of Modern Conflict, the world‘s largest photographic collection of its kind, the exhibition questions the unspoken criteria at play within the visual representation of conflict.

While visiting the Bertolt Brecht archives in Berlin, Broomberg & 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 (published by Mack, 2013) and now, on show at MOSTYN in its UK premiere, 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 exhibition endeavour. 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. With this exhibition, for the first time Broomberg & Chanarin make this parable powerfully explicit.

Exhibited alongside Divine Violence there will be two other significant works by Broomberg & Chanarin: Afterlife, a re-reading of a controversial, Pulitzer Prize-winning 1979 photograph, whose author was anonymous for the next 30 years; and The Day Nobody Died, a 2008 series of radically non-figurative, action-photographs produced when Broomberg & Chanarin were embedded with British Army units on the front line in Helmand Province in Afghanistan.

The exhibition at MOSTYN is curated by Alfredo Cramerotti, Director, MOSTYN, and is produced in partnership with Artes Mundi and Fotografia Europea.

Accompanying the exhibition opening (Saturday 19th July 2014) Artes Mundi will present the second seminar in the ‘Dialogues on Conflict’ series. Conflict through the Eye of Lens will explore: What is the relationship between photography & war? How do photographers and artists represent and interpret conflict and how does the mass media use and distribute these images?

This seminar will bring together artists, academics, theorists and theologians to explore and discuss the frictions and tensions surrounding authorship, representation and the sacred.

More information on the ‘Dialogues on Conflict’ series can be found at


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MOSTYN receives financial support from the Arts Council of Wales and Conwy County Borough Council Art Service
Mostyn Gallery Ltd is a registered charity trading as MOSTYN.

Artes Mundi is publicly funded by the Arts Council of Wales and by Cardiff City Council. Other funders include The Colwinston Charitable Trust, The Myristica Trust and the Waterloo Foundation.

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