Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin, edit folder_f1, 2010, C-type print, 150 x 190 cm



Hundred of balloons rising into the sky… a young boy staring, close-up, at a glass that has caught the light on a sunny day… a column of flame, bursting, volcano-like, through a broken window of a burning car…a man, fallen, surprised… someone grieving, in the arms of someone fierce with anger… a crowd, seen from behind a line of riot shields, advancing towards us… a girl covering her face… the tops of tall tress, silhouetted in the distance… a finger pointing right… a face looking out at us, from the darkness…
Paradise Row presents PEOPLE IN TROUBLE LAUGHING PUSHED TO THE GROUND, a new body of work by duo Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin.

PEOPLE IN TROUBLE LAUGHING PUSHED TO THE GROUND continues Broomberg & Chanarin's ongoing exploration of the limits and possibilities of photography in a historical moment when both ubiquity and technology have rendered the production and use of documentary images intensely problematic, a vector of enquiry pursued and manifest in their earlier, seminal series; The Red House, The Day Nobody Died and American Landscapes.

The new work is the result of an engagement by the artists with Belfast Exposed, a photographic archive founded in 1983. The archive houses images taken by both professional photo-journalists and 'civilian' photographers. Accordingly the archive spans the political, the social and the private, the didactic and the playful.

A further layer of meaning is added by the fact that, since its inception, the archive has been open and accessible to all. Consequently, many of the images have been scrutinized and marked by everyone from archivists and photo-editors to political activitists and people simply featured in the photographs. Belfast Exposed is thus a palimpsest. The marks range from the formal and professional to the casual and violent. In places coloured dots denote formal editing processes designed to select and emphasize. Elsewhere, ink and sometimes scissors have been used to erase, obscure and deface, highlighting a tension between the desire to expose and the desire to remain hidden.

Broomberg & Chanarin's work has been to attempt to re-present something of the emotive totality of these contested images, of the moving collision of accident and intent in the images, the marks upon them and the bathos of the historic undercut by the quotidian.

In one series they have printed the section of photographs beneath the coloured dots, using these editing marks as a found code.

In a small number of larger prints they have reproduced images that bear marks of erasure. …A man looking at the camera, smoking, his entire face, almost, but not quite obliterated by a painterly passage of ink… a young woman, with striking, sharp features, struck through by a marker pen, so that her eyes and identity are obscured…

The exhibition amounts to a self-reflexive, critical act that foregrounds the subjectivity of documentary and archival processes and also a homage to this particular archive of images - an extraordinary social document of a critical moment in the history of Northern Ireland.

In respect to PEOPLE IN TROUBLE LAUGHING PUSHED TO THE GROUND the artists would like to acknowledge the original photographers Mervyn Smith, Sean Mc Kernan, Gerry Casey, Seamus Loughran and all other contributing photographers to Belfast Exposed's archive.


This exhibition is accompanied by the forthcoming book PEOPLE IN TROUBLE LAUGHING PUSHED TO THE GROUND by Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin, published by MACK Books on 24 February 2011.