War Primer 2 is an artist’s book that inhabits the pages of the 1998 first English–language edition of Bertolt Brecht’s Kriegsfibel (War Primer), originally published in German in 1955. Brecht matched World War II newspaper clippings with four–line poems that he called photo–epigrams, with the intent of demystifying the mass–media images. Brecht was skeptical of the role photojournalism played in the political economy of capitalism, and he referred to press pictures as hieroglyphics in need of decoding. In their version, Broomberg and Chanarin silkscreened text directly onto Brecht’s book and superimposed low–resolution screenshots, culled from Google image searches, that refer to the ongoing “War on Terror.” Through this layering of photographic history the artists construct a critique of images of contemporary conflict.
Gallery label from New Photography 2013, September 14, 2013–January 6, 2014.