War Primer 3 is a reworking of Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin’s War Primer 2 itself a reworking of Bertolt Brecht’s Kriegsfibel. In this remarkable critique of the relationship between war and photography, Brecht sought to extract the hidden meanings behind images of conflict with short poems inspired by the funereal epigrams of the ancient world.

Broomberg and Chanarin in turn updated Brecht’s book by introducing images from the so-called War on Terror, each intended to resonate with Brecht’s original text. While in some respects brilliant, in other ways Broomberg and Chanarin’s follow up was deeply problematic, particularly the book’s existence as an expensive, editioned art object, and the use of unpaid, uncredited intern labour in its production.

In the spirit of Brecht’s playful invocation not to ‘start with the good old things but the bad new ones’ I have reworked Broomberg and Chanarin’s book into a new work primer, a meditation on inequality, labour and capital. By restructuring the book around the text of Brecht’s poem A Worker Reads History, and adding new images and text a third incarnation of the book came into being, one designed as a tribute to the anonymous many who keep the engines of the world turning.

 

-Shortlisted for the Bar Tur Book Award 2014.

View the War Primer 3  book

Download the War Primer 3 e-Edition

 


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Lewis Bush