Beirut: How did you come to smell of smoke and fire?
September 15 - November 3, 2007
Gallery Luisotti is pleased to announce its upcoming exhibition Simon Norfolk – Beirut: How did you come to smell of smoke and fire?. In his second solo exhibition at Gallery Luisotti, Simon Norfolk presents photographs from Beirut, taken following the three-day war of September, 2006. In these images, Norfolk’s classically inspired aesthetic captures both the peculiarly abstract and strikingly beautiful, yet all in the shadow of war’s horrific effects.
In previous work, Norfolk has photographed Baghdad following the initial American invasion in 2003, as well as sites of genocide in Bosnia, and the beauty of Afghanistan while beneath the veil of war. Like these previous endeavors, Norfolk’s Beirut carries a poignancy communicated through the apparently antithetical nature of his images. Norfolk photographs those sites most difficult to look at, yet his sense for composition, lighting and color recalls the sublime beauty of Romantic painting. Images such as “The fishing harbor at Ouzai” are filled with contrast, where the serene peace of still water beneath waning sunlight is disturbed by the refuse of destruction. The image melds beauty and politics, a conflation that necessitates attention and demands commentary.
Another image from Beirut pictures a couple of young boys sleeping on foam pads beneath a large tree. On the tree hang bags containing what is left of their home, and around the trunk we find bottles of water, propane and other basic provisions. The theme of this image, the refugee camp, unites much of Norfolk’s work. In addition to the Beirut images, a small selection of other refugee camps Norfolk has photographed will also be on display during the exhibition. These images find the people who are all but absent in Norfolk’s photographs of war torn areas. The photographs prove the tenacity of close-knit communities, despite “home” being the product of a temporary living situation.