The Centre for Contemporary Art, Warsaw presents Rudiments, a new solo exhibition by Broomberg and Chanarin, which consists of new photographic, moving image and performative works that explore tensions between discipline and chance, precision and chaos, empathy and the involuntary experience of Schadenfreude.
Central to the exhibition is a new film work Rudiments, co-commisioned by Forma Arts, in which Broomberg and Chanarin have collaborated with a group of young army cadets at a military camp on the outskirts of Liverpool. Whether the scenes we observe are staged by the artists or simply a document of the camp’s routine practice remains unclear. The absurd and disturbing introduction of a bouffon – a dark clown whose performance teeters on vulgarity – radically challenges the military codes and interrupts their carefully choreographed routines. Broomberg and Chanarin’s film, explores the formative moments of early youth and is propelled by a dramatic score devised for the drums by the American musician Kid Millions.
Two large scale photographic work dominate the other galleries. The first shows a series of still-lives of bullets that have collided in midair. These improbable objects were originally found on the battlefields of the American civil war and are said to have effectively saved the lives of two soldiers. For the second series Broomberg and Chanarin have photographed military grade prisms, shards of optical glass that are used in the sights of precision weaponary. Violence is transmitted through these materials: collided lumps of lead and the shear edges of crystal glass.
The artists are questioning not only the task of the photographer, but also the medium itself and its role as a political instrument. The camera is never neutral and innocent; rather, its physical and material characteristics often reveal its more underlying ideological functions. While To Photograph the Details of a Dark Horse in Low Light and The Polaroid Workers Revolutionary Movement dealt with the relation between photographic technology and racial politics (and, especially, the role of the Kodak and Polaroid companies), Shtik Fleisch Mit Tzvei Eigen explores the effects of the implementation of new technologies in the context of state surveillance systems. Time and again, the artists reverse the documentary tradition, putting at the very centre not the final product and its emotional impact, but instead exposing the multi-layered process and the complex politics of making images.