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Book of the Week: A Pick by Barbara Tannenbaum


Book of the Week Book of the Week: A Pick by Barbara Tannenbaum This week's Book of the Week pick comes from Curator of Photography at the Cleveland Museum of Art Barbara Tannenbaum who selected Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin's Holy Bible.

By Oliver Chanarin and Adam Broomberg 
MACK, 2013
This week's Book of the Week pick comes from Curator of Photography at the Cleveland Museum of Art Barbara Tannenbaum who selected Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin's Holy Bible. Holy Bible was also one of the most selected Best Books of 2013, appearing on the lists of 8 contributors: Darius Himes, Doug Rickard, Elisa Medde, Eric Miles, Erin Azouz, Hisako Motoo, Larissa Leclair and Sarah Bradley.

"Over the holidays, I found myself an exciting and provocative read: the Holy Bible. Between its black leatherette covers are all the makings of a grand epic: sex, love, poverty, war, and death. There was, however, no clear path to redemption, because the authors of my particular Holy Bible were Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin.

Let me backtrack a bit… the promise of salvation can be found in the text, which is a facsimile of the King James Version. Laid over the familiar typography are photographs selected by the artists from the Archive of Modern Conflict, a massive, eclectic photography collection that had its start focusing on images of war and violence but then greatly expanded its scope. Broomberg + Charnarin found pictures that cover the range of human experience from procreation, familial affection, erection and evacuation, pleasure and pain to trained poodles and violent death. Why the pairing of the images with their particular two-page spread? One or more lines of text underlined in red purport to provide clues.

from Holy Bible by Oliver Chanarin and Adam Broomberg, MACK, 2013
Glued inside the back cover is another clue: Israeli philosopher Adi Ophir’s essay 'Divine Violence,' which suggests that God reveals himself mostly through catastrophes. The artists offer a more affirmative outlook by including numerous positive images showing human affection, achievement and quirkiness. The book’s penultimate image is the destruction of the World Trade Center. Its final one is an ambiguous scene, darkness rimmed with colored lights but dominated by a white conical shape. Are we seeing the first step toward total annihilation or the light that beckons us to the godhead? Like the original, Broomberg + Chanarin’s Holy Bible is open to numerous interpretations." —Barbara Tannenbaum

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Barbara Tannenbaum is Curator of Photography at the Cleveland Museum of Art, where she recently organized Hank Willis Thomas (on view through March 8,) and DIY: Photographers and Books, the first museum exhibition focusing on print-on-demand photobooks.




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