Simon Norfolk – Forensic Traces of War

simon norfolk

A controlled explosion of an American fuel convoy in Iraq being filmed on the set of ?Over There?, a Fox TV production about the life of a US Army platoon in contemporary Iraq. Being filmed in Chatsworth, just north of Los Angeles. © Simon Norfolk

“Simon Norfolk is a very talented driven young photographer who is pursuing one of life’s big questions with intensity and focused intention. He is studying war, and its effects on many things: the physical shape of our cities and natural environments, social memory, the psychology of societies, and more. 

He is examining genocide; imperialism; the interconnectedness of war, land and military space; and how wars are being fought at the same time with supercomputers, satellites, outdated weapons and equipment, people on the ground, intercepted communications, and manipulated and manipulating media.

Norfolk is doing this with photography that is beautiful — stunning in its clarity and detail, without the typical shock or trauma that one might expect about the subject of war. All of his work is informed by inquisitive intelligence, research, supporting facts and figures. And over time, deliberately and carefully, he is trying to connect many of the dots.

He attacks his subjects with a forensic approach, and thinks of his photographs of landscapes as “chronotopes”, layers of meaning, abandoned redundant military hardware, bombed-out ruins, mass graves, forgotten memory — all dating back to before the Roman empire and continuing through to the future, non-stop.

His personal manner and his supporting texts are as quiet as his photographs, but he has an edge about him that rivets listeners and readers. He makes bold sweeping statements that link together “designs and patterns, historical traces [of war] in landscape, architecture, language” all over the world. He speaks from direct experience: Rwanda, Afghanastan, Iraq, Bosnia, abandoned battlefields scattered with broken tanks, unexploded cluster bombs, depleted uranium bullets, mass graves, ruined houses, towns, villages, lives.

In this constant layering and covering up, and what remains, he believes it is his duty as an investigative photographer to make us stop and regard a seemingly benign scene with more discrimination. His job is to “lift it out of the flow,” freeze it, and make us think.

His books, which he refers to as “chapters” in the same ongoing story-telling, are perhaps the most satisfying way to comprehend the complex things he is trying to communicate. His website is state-of-the-art and packed with informed reporting and packaged in a compelling manner. If you get a chance to hear him speak, do so. And when you see his very large prints on the walls of galleries or museums, they will mean so much more to you.”

Lens Culture feature on Simon Norfolk

Lens Culture interview with Simon Norfolk

Simon Norfolk

2 responses to “Simon Norfolk – Forensic Traces of War

  1. Joyeux Noel et Bonne Annee-Neath Une Vieux Cote Ste Paulois/Verdunois/Montrealais/Quebecois Kerry( merci biens pour votres articles tres plus interessants!(cette inclus votres photos plus interessants et tres parfait composees!)

    Depuis ma tres jeune age (en les annees soixantes(en Cote Ste Paul))Je celebre mes Joyeux Noels avec les repas des Tourtieres Quebecois(par BBQ St Hubert…(ma favori)(je t’aime BBQ St Hubert(depuis les annees soixantes!)..Une vieux tradition de mon famille.(il commencait quand le familee de ma pere habite sur Ave 6ieme en Verdun(et ma vie en Cote St Paul(sur rue Drake(a la coin de de Biencourt).(avant le gros Parc(de la Cite Du Montreal) avant le Aqueduc)(et le Pont Ave 4ieme)(a Verdun)…

    Je boire le cafe seulment(en remplacer du vin(avec du vin -je fais trop but tres mauvais malades… tete…(lol).

    (Aujourd’hui- je n’ user pas-les alcools(le vin rouges) avec ma tourtiere(j’inclus aussi les olives les cornichons tranchees et les ketchup des tomates(une favori de ma pere et ma grand pere sur nous table et pour ma repas du Noel….(m’autre gran pere -il vendu les produits (olives et autres produits) pour Gattuso(il ne a Saint Henri-dans une famille tres pauvre)(dans les premiere annees de la derniere siecle).

    Ma tourtiere(deux- pour le repas de Noel)il fait seulement pour le repas de Noel(pour cette occasion tres especiale-seulment..)(je connais-a pense a inclus le vin rouge pour servir avec notre tourtiere( je plus t’aime le vin francais-(commencait quand je tres jeune)(le vin fait moi tres gueule de bois tres mauvaise(je n’enjoie pas ici!(lol)(sentiment trop but-tres vite!)

    A tres jeune age Je suie apprendre a boire propre le vin avec le repas

    Pour la memoire speciale Je prendre des photos de ma nourriture

    Immediatement apres je lit votre article(du Post Artica) sur Simon Norfolk Je joindre Lens Culture(avec Simon Norfolk)

    A la prochaine Kerry

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