Photographers Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin’s new collection of work examines some of the myths surrounding contemporary Israel where, quite often, things aren’t really as they first appear. A series of mundane objects – a melon, a beer can, a rock, for example – in fact turn out to be bombs or, rather, re-creations of bombs made by the Israeli Police Force’s Bomb Disposal Unit (based on the designs used in actual attacks) and now housed in their informal museum in Jerusalem which reveals when and where they were used and how many people were injured or killed.
While bomb detection becomes more advanced in the Middle East, so do the methods to disguise these deadly creations: re-made here using papier-mâché, wood, wire and found objects.
This disquieting series of images forms part of the photographic duo’s new book, Chicago. The book’s title refers to the artificial Arab town built at Tze’elim Military Base in the Negev Desert where the Israeli Defense Force has rehearsed military operations for over 30 years. Essentially a practice ground for inner-city warfare (the architecture is based on Palestinian towns like Ramallah and Nablus) the first part of this fascinating book conveys the disturbing atmosphere of this entirely fabricated town.
Images of Mini Israel, a huge scale model of the country’s holy sites, hotels and nature parks – a nostalgic depicition of the country in miniature – also feature in this stimulating collection where design and craft skills are, in some cases, employed to devastating effect.
Chicago is published by steidlMACK at £30