Scarti: Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin at TJ Boulting
In 2003 Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin published the iconic photobook Ghetto, in which they explored the social mechanics of 12 “gated communities”, from a maximum-security prison in South Africa to America’s answer to Butlins for senior citizens.
11 years later, the now out of print book is having a ghostly resurgence through its offcuts or, to be more precise, its scarti di avviamento – paper that is fed through the printing press twice before making a book, to clean the drums of ink between runs. What existed as single photographic images in Ghetto now serve as mashed up layers of double images in Scarti, the latest creation from the artists, once again in conjunction with Trolley Books.
Usually discarded as scraps, these scarti were saved by publisher Gigi Giannuzzi, and stored away in a box. Following his untimely death in December 2012, the box was unearthed and what resulted were these hauntingly beautiful and ultimately de-contextualised images, where South African prisoners fall into the photographs of Tanzanian refugees, and a retired American lady from Leisure World perches on the knee of a Kurdish lorry driver. What began as the documentation of 12 contrasting ghettos now exists as a composite pattern of images, where the most distinct tribes of people incongruously and yet happily share the same space. Almost like some sort of Surrealist photomontage, these uncanny juxtapositions are the result of beautiful irony and chance creation – precisely what makes for such a fascinating body of work.
Hung next to the exquisite, blown-up scarti is a new body of work by the artists: Scarti of the scarti. However, this time the images in the book were printed on top of an Italian furniture catalogue, which were then cut up and selected. Fusing the accidental with the deliberately affected, human beings with inanimate objects, and the overall possibility of endless repetition, Scarti sets an exceptionally high bar for the new year.
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Photo: Courtesy of TJ Boulting
Scarti: Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin is at TJ Boulting until 8th March 2014. For further information visit the gallery’s website here.