ARTPIL Profiles of the Arts
An Act of Unspeakable Violence / Matthias Bruggmann
Through Jan 18, 2019 / Musee de l'Elysee

Al-Shirqat and Zawiya, Iraq, September 24, 2016 © Matthias Bruggmann

Matthias Bruggmann won the second edition of the Prix Elysée, with the support of Parmigiani Fleurier, for his project on Syria. Hoping to “arouse in a Western audience a visceral understanding of the intangible violence that underlies any conflict,” he takes the gamble of hiding nothing in his explicit and brutal pictures. Taken in the field, they force the viewer to slow down and take stock of the war – geographically distant, admittedly, but made omnipresent by the media.

 

Yarmouk, Damas, 30 août 2014 © Matthias Bruggmann

Al Rabiah, Reef Hama, 23 avril 2012 © Matthias Bruggmann

Al Ghota, Homs, 28 mai 2012 © Matthias Bruggmann

Khan Assubul, Reef Idlib, 20 février 2013 © Matthias Bruggmann

If the tens of thousands of pictures of torture taken by Syrian photographers do not attract the attention of a Western audience, what can a foreigner who doesn’t even speak Arabic hope to accomplish? The photographs of Matthias Bruggmann take a critical look at the representation of the atrocities of war. They give Westerners a more nuanced picture of the reality of an armed conflict and blur the boundaries between photojournalism and contemporary artistic photography.

 

Marmarita, Reef Homs, 7 septembre 2013 © Matthias Bruggmann

Reef Quneitra, 7 août 2015 © Matthias Bruggmann

Haas, Reef Idlib, 1er mai 2014 © Matthias Bruggmann

Talmenes, Reef Idlib, 1er mai 2014 © Matthias Bruggmann

Launched in 2012, his project plunges us into the complexity of the conflict. His images, which cover a geographic zone larger than Syria, question our moral assumptions and bring about a better understanding of the violence underlying this conflict.

 

Marmarita, Reef Homs, 11 septembre 2013 © Matthias Bruggmann

Kafr Souseh, Damas, 5 mai 2012 © Matthias Bruggmann

Damas, 5 mars 2014 © Matthias Bruggmann

Al-Rabia, Hama province, April 23, 2012 © Matthias Bruggmann

Babeela, Damas, 23 mai 2015 © Matthias Bruggmann

Matthias Bruggmann explains: “Formally, my previous work put viewers in a position where they were asked to decide the nature of the work itself. A scientifically questionable analogy of this mechanism would be the observer effect in quantum physics, where the act of observing changes the nature of what is being observed. My Syrian work builds on this framework. From a documentation perspective, it is, thus far and to the best of my knowledge, unique as the work, inside Syria, of a single Western photographer, in large part thanks to the assistance and hard work of some of the best independent experts on the conflict. Because of the nature of this conflict, I believe it is necessary to expand the geographical scope of the work. At its core is an attempt at generating a sense of moral ambiguity. The design of this is to make viewers uneasy by challenging their own moral assumptions and, thus, attempt to bring, to Western viewers, a visceral comprehension of the intangible violence that underlies conflict. One of the means is by perverting the codes normally used in documentary photography to enhance identification with the subject.”

 

An Act of Unspeakable Violence / Matthias Bruggmann
Through January 18, 2019 / Musée de l’Elysée
Lydia Dorner, Curator Assistant, Exhibitions department, Musée de l’Elysée
Visit the exhibition page >

Recent Articles
ARTPIL / Prescription .093
Separate and Unequal
Today is the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Brown vs. Board…
Today is the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka; European Parliament…
Photo London 2019
May 16–19, 2019 / Somerset House
Photo London is a place to encounter the most innovative emerging artists…
Photo London is a place to encounter the most innovative emerging artists and new works by established masters,…
Fragrance of the Night
Qin Qi
Extensive historical backdrop and nature of sudden changes cast light on traces…
Extensive historical backdrop and nature of sudden changes cast light on traces of human conquest, strange and mysterious…
Alex Prager / Compulsion
Through May 24, 2019
The highly choreographed nature of Prager’s work embodies a visual vocabulary and…
The highly choreographed nature of Prager’s work embodies a visual vocabulary and style that has become her own,…
Sean Scully. Landline
Through May 19, 2019
Known for combining the geometry of European concrete art with the ethereality…
Known for combining the geometry of European concrete art with the ethereality of American abstraction, Scully’s thick, gestural…
Louise Nevelson
Wood Assemblages from the 1970s
As monumental as they are memorable, Nevelson’s work have been aligned with…
As monumental as they are memorable, Nevelson’s work have been aligned with many different movements, from Abstract Expressionism…
Venice Biennale / 58th Edition
May You Live in Interesting Times
The title can be interpreted as a sort of curse where “interesting…
The title can be interpreted as a sort of curse where “interesting times” evokes the a challenging or…
ARTPIL / Prescription .092
cinco de mayo
Kublai Khan becomes ruler, Christopher Columbus lands in Jamaica, Mexican army defeats…
Kublai Khan becomes ruler, Christopher Columbus lands in Jamaica, Mexican army defeats French forces at the Battle of…
An Act of Unspeakable Violence / Matthias Bruggmann
Through Jan 18, 2019 / Musee de l'Elysee

Al-Shirqat and Zawiya, Iraq, September 24, 2016 © Matthias Bruggmann

Matthias Bruggmann won the second edition of the Prix Elysée, with the support of Parmigiani Fleurier, for his project on Syria. Hoping to “arouse in a Western audience a visceral understanding of the intangible violence that underlies any conflict,” he takes the gamble of hiding nothing in his explicit and brutal pictures. Taken in the field, they force the viewer to slow down and take stock of the war – geographically distant, admittedly, but made omnipresent by the media.

 

Yarmouk, Damas, 30 août 2014 © Matthias Bruggmann

Al Rabiah, Reef Hama, 23 avril 2012 © Matthias Bruggmann

Al Ghota, Homs, 28 mai 2012 © Matthias Bruggmann

Khan Assubul, Reef Idlib, 20 février 2013 © Matthias Bruggmann

If the tens of thousands of pictures of torture taken by Syrian photographers do not attract the attention of a Western audience, what can a foreigner who doesn’t even speak Arabic hope to accomplish? The photographs of Matthias Bruggmann take a critical look at the representation of the atrocities of war. They give Westerners a more nuanced picture of the reality of an armed conflict and blur the boundaries between photojournalism and contemporary artistic photography.

 

Marmarita, Reef Homs, 7 septembre 2013 © Matthias Bruggmann

Reef Quneitra, 7 août 2015 © Matthias Bruggmann

Haas, Reef Idlib, 1er mai 2014 © Matthias Bruggmann

Talmenes, Reef Idlib, 1er mai 2014 © Matthias Bruggmann

Launched in 2012, his project plunges us into the complexity of the conflict. His images, which cover a geographic zone larger than Syria, question our moral assumptions and bring about a better understanding of the violence underlying this conflict.

 

Marmarita, Reef Homs, 11 septembre 2013 © Matthias Bruggmann

Kafr Souseh, Damas, 5 mai 2012 © Matthias Bruggmann

Damas, 5 mars 2014 © Matthias Bruggmann

Al-Rabia, Hama province, April 23, 2012 © Matthias Bruggmann

Babeela, Damas, 23 mai 2015 © Matthias Bruggmann

Matthias Bruggmann explains: “Formally, my previous work put viewers in a position where they were asked to decide the nature of the work itself. A scientifically questionable analogy of this mechanism would be the observer effect in quantum physics, where the act of observing changes the nature of what is being observed. My Syrian work builds on this framework. From a documentation perspective, it is, thus far and to the best of my knowledge, unique as the work, inside Syria, of a single Western photographer, in large part thanks to the assistance and hard work of some of the best independent experts on the conflict. Because of the nature of this conflict, I believe it is necessary to expand the geographical scope of the work. At its core is an attempt at generating a sense of moral ambiguity. The design of this is to make viewers uneasy by challenging their own moral assumptions and, thus, attempt to bring, to Western viewers, a visceral comprehension of the intangible violence that underlies conflict. One of the means is by perverting the codes normally used in documentary photography to enhance identification with the subject.”

 

An Act of Unspeakable Violence / Matthias Bruggmann
Through January 18, 2019 / Musée de l’Elysée
Lydia Dorner, Curator Assistant, Exhibitions department, Musée de l’Elysée
Visit the exhibition page >