Et In Arcadia Ego

The Photographs of Simon Norfolk with commentary by the artist

“These photographs are part of a larger project attempting to understand how war and the need to fight war, has formed our world: how so many of the spaces we occupy; the technologies we use; and the ways we understand ourselves, are created by military conflict.”

“The battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq are the most obvious manifestations of this process. However, just as much ‘battlefields’ – landscapes/surfaces created by war – are the extraordinary instant cities thrown up by refugees; the bizarre environments created by electronic eavesdropping; the cordon thrown around a US Presidential election candidate or the face of a young girl dying from AIDS in a country where an already feeble health system was smashed by years of civil war.”

“What these ‘landscapes’ have in common – their basis in war – is fundamentally downplayed in our society. I was astounded to discover that the long, straight, bustling, commercial road that runs through my neighbourhood of London follows an old Roman road. In places the Roman stones are still buried beneath the modern tarmac. The road system built by the Romans was their most crucial military technology, their equivalent of the stealth bomber or the Apache helicopter – a technology that allowed a huge empire to be maintained by a relatively small army that could move quickly and safely along these paved, all-weather roads. It is extraordinary that London, a city that should be shaped by Tudor kings, the British Empire, Victorian engineers and modern international finance, is a city fundamentally drawn, even to this day, by abandoned Roman military hardware.”

“Anybody interested in the effects of war quickly becomes an expert in ruins, and these images are the result of a long fascination with ruins and their portrayal in Art. Some of the earliest photographers were Ruin Photographers and they drew on the devastation and decay in the paintings of Nicolas Poussin and Claude Lorrain; in the garden designs of Capability Brown and in the poetry of the likes of Shelley and Byron. The ruins in these artworks were philosophical metaphors about the foolishness of pride; about awe and the Sublime; about the power of God; and, most importantly to me, the vanity of Empire. The photographs I am showing were all taken since 9/11, a very special time to be thinking about the making of a new global empire. A time to think of the cruelty necessary for its construction and what these new ruins might mean for all of us.”

more of Simon Norfolk’s work can be seen at www.simonnorfolk.com

Overflow | Archive | About | Contact
© 1999-2006 Deek Magazine L.L.C. All Rights Reserved - site by art product