In October 2010, Simon Norfolk began a series of new photographs in Afghanistan, which takes its cue from the work of nineteenth-century British photographer John Burke. Norfolk’s photographs reimagine or respond to Burke’s Afghan war scenes in the context of the contemporary conflict. Conceived as a collaborative project with Burke across time, this new body of work is presented alongside Burke’s original portfolios in this well-produced 17-minute video for the Tate Channel: http://youtu.be/XXrmBhpRG2U
This engaging, insightful video has a strong political slant — but even if you don’t completely agree with Simon Norfolk’s political opinions, his photographs stand out from the flood of familiar everyday photojournalism that seems to come of the conflict areas. His photos, and this video presenation, are smart, and they make you think. You can come to your own conclusions. And you can also learn about how a dedicated photographer finds a way to make artful photographs in a war zone. His work even echoes some of the more surreal scenes from Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now, including Playboy Bunnies entertaining the troops.
You can see earlier work by Norfolk in Afghanistan, and hear our audio interview with him from 2006, in the Archives section of Lens Culture.