Holy Bible

“Right from the start, almost every appearance he made was catastrophic… Catastrophe is his means of operation, and his central instrument of governance." — Adi Ophir


Already touted by TIME magazine as one of the best photobooks of 2013, it seems impossible to avoid confronting this difficult and provocative work. 


Holy Bible, as interpreted by Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin, is an extended visual rant that pulls together bizarre and disturbing imagery from the Archive of Modern Conflict, and presents those photographs superimposed on the precise structure and the physical form of the King James Version — with snippets of Biblical texts underlined in red on practically every page.

It is obvious to say that it must be viewed in multifaceted contexts: violence, catastrophe, global and regional politics, religion, power, corruption, greed, propaganda, consumer advertising, human conflict, nature, sex, life, death ... and photography as a powerful visual language that can used and abused for multiple purposes. So yes, it's got something for everyone.

Violence, calamity and the absurdity of war are recorded extensively within The Archive of Modern Conflict, the largest photographic collection of its kind in the world. Broomberg and Chanarin mined this archive with philosopher Adi Ophir’s central tenet in mind: that God reveals himself predominantly through catastrophe and that power structures within the Bible correlate with those within modern systems of governance.

The format is brilliant and unnerving — open to any page at random and you are confronted with rather absurd, obsessive phrases from the Bible, juxtaposed by disturbing images of various cruel realities (or, one of the repeating motifs, photographs of magic tricks and hoaxes based on hokey visual illusions). Lest there be any doubt, a brief essay glued inside the back cover drives home the intent: its title is "Divine Violence".

— Jim Casper

Holy Bible
by Adam Broomberg,Oliver Chanarin
Publisher: Mack
Hardcover: 768 pages