20 September 2010

Contemporary Photographer: Simon Norfolk

Simon Norfolk was born in Nigeria in 1963 but was educated in England, finishing  with a degree in philosophy and sociology at Oxford and Bristol Universities.  After leaving a documentary photography course, Norfolk worked as a photojournalist, specializing in work on anti-racist activities and fascist groups.  However, in 1994, he gave up photojournalism in favor of landscape photography.  Norfolk has won numerous awards for his work and has published many books too.

(Edited extract from National Geographic website)

Thoughts on his work by another photographer:
"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of war, land and military space; and how wars are being fought at the same time with supercomputers, satellites, outdated weapons and equipment, people on the ground, intercepted communications, and manipulated and manipulating media."
(by Jim Casper, through Lens Culture website)

Har Homa, one of the newest illegal settlements built to encircle Jerusalem. The settlements almost always occupy the hilltops.

Path leading up to the mass grave site at Crni Vrh. To deter anyone from examining the site, the Serbs seeded the area with landmines. War crimes investigators have cleared the path and grave site so that they can recover the bodies, but the forests are marked as a still active minefield.

Military hangers containing spares for planes and helicopters at Kabul Airport, destroyed by American bombs.

The River Drinjaca between Kladanj and Vlasenica. The Serbs separated women and children from the other Bosniac captives and bussed them to Bosnian Government-held territory. Near this location the buses were stopped, the men were separated off and then killed in an isolated field.

I really like Norfolk's photojournalism work! It is insightful but not necessarily direct, in that it doesn't actually show the war or the devastation of a war, but it shows the impact and the aftermath that that war has had on that society.  His work tells a story but indirectly...  I think the thing that makes his work so interesting is the subject matter and the stories that his photographs tell, rather than the composition and other technical qualities of the images.  Its a bit unfortunate that he has now left the photojournalism genre, moving instead into landscape photography, as I think he had a real talent for documentary contemporary photography. 

Artist's website: http://www.simonnorfolk.com/
Images, descriptions and Casper's thoughts from: http://www.lensculture.com/norfolk.html
Biography from:

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