Sunday, 16 May 2010

Beauty with Bite

I recently came across a photographer called Simon Norfolk. I hadn't come across him before, and I can't remember how I did find out about him, but his work really interests me.

A Slight Disturbance of the Sea

This image appears to be a beautiful photograph of the sun setting over a coastline, but when you read the text explaining the photograph, you discover that it is looking towards Arran and the Arran Trench, where the Kintyre-based trawler Antares was dragged down by a submarine manned by trainee submarine commanders at the end of their 6-week training mission. All 4 of her crew were drowned. The submarine sonar operator reported 'a slight disturbance of the sea' at the time the Antares was dragged under.

Many of Simon Norfolk's images are beautiful to look at, but each holds a deeper message and what interests me most is this combination. The idea that photographs don't have to be ugly in order to make a statement. Just because something is beautiful, it doesn't have to be superficial.

One of the most beautiful places I've been to, and fell in love with instantly, is the Outer Hebrides (if they ever find a way of exterminating midges, I'll move there!) and this image captures perfectly the wonderful beaches there. However, this is South Uist where the missile testing range built in the 1950s leaked large amounts of the radioisotope Cobalt-60 for 13 years (it was to help track missiles on radar).


In 2002 it was discovered that 352 drums of contimated waste were buried at the range. The range is still one of the busiest in the world and one of the biggest, stretching far out into the Atlantic.

Simon Norfolk - his writing is also extremely interesting.

Lensculture interview with Simon Norfolk: "Forensic Traces of War"


Theresa said...

Some great stuff - thanks for posting.

Here is the photographer I mentioned today: Ismar Cirkinagic. A bit of background: He was born in Bosnia and became a refugee at the age of 19, when the war broke out. He is educated at the Danish Royal Academy of Art in Copenhagen. His exhibition Smoking Gun contained photographs of places where mass graves had been found. (See 1st link for his photo Execution Place K1). He also exhibited botanic specimens of the plants that grew on the mass grave sites (see 2nd link).

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