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Burke + Norfolk: Photographs from the War in Afghanistan by John Burke and Simon Norfolk
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Simon Norfolk’s book Afghanistan; chronotopia is now recognised as a classic of photography. It establised Norfolk’s reputation as one of the leading photographers in the world and has been exhibited in more than 30 venues worldwide. For the first time since 2001, Simon Norfolk has returned to the country. This time he follows in the footsteps of the Irish photographer John Burke, a superb, yet virtually unknown, war photographer whose eloquent and beautiful photographs of the Second Anglo-Afghan War (1878-1880) form a most extraordinary record. Using unwieldy wet-plate collodion negatives and huge wooden cameras Burke shot landscapes, battlefields, archaeological sites, street scenes, portraits of British officers and ethnological group portraits of Afghans in what amounts to a record of an Imperial encounter. The range of work is tremendously broad and yet suffused with a delicate humanism. These are also the first ever pictures made in Afghanistan. With this book, one hundred and thirty years too late, John Burke’s time has at last come. Norfolk’s new work looks at what happens when you add half a trillion US war dollars to an impoverished and broken country such as Afghanistan. Very loosely re-photographic in nature, the work is more of an ‘Improvisation on a theme’ by John Burke, and is presented as an artistic collaboration between Burke and Norfolk. It features photographs by Burke never before published as well as Norfolk’s new pictures from Kabul and Helmand.
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