Obituary for the artist duo Broomberg & Chanarin
By David Campany
On the occasion of the posthumous retrospective of Broomberg & Chanarin at Fabra i Coats Contemporary Art Centre, Barcelona, David Campany elicits a co-authored obituary for the renowned artist duo.
Dear David, Olly and I are about to announce the official end of our collaboration with a show at Fabra i Coats Contemporary Art Centre in Barcelona called “The Late Estate Broomberg & Chanarin”. I would love you to write an obituary for this artist. I don’t know anyone who has had more influence on that artist and who has also been fearless as an outspoken critic of it. Would you consider writing a standard say NYT length obit. The show is on Feb 20 and we would like to pitch it beforehand so time is tight. Please would you consider it. It’s a really big moment for us and it would close a circle in some way and allow for a fresh new start. Let me know your thoughts D.
In the spirit of this authorial play, the artists should write it and Mr Campany will sign it. Graham Lee, secretary to David Campany
Are you serious?
You will sign your name to anything we write?
I’ll check with him.
He says “in principle, yes” but he knows that principles are for sale.
Tell him no deal
We want his thoughts and emotions
No deal. He keeps his emotions pretty private.
Then his thoughts
Feb 20 is too soon, I think. I’ve had a look at my schedule. I have so much to do here.
We go back a long way David. Those chats you and I had did influence many of the key projects Olly and I made. Likewise, us publishing your first book, me introducing you to Michael Mack were important to you.
OK… last try… not even a few words? Literally just a soundbite?
I know it’s a big ask David but it’s a big moment
Please do this, life is short and these moments count
Let me know.
okok! (why all the pomp for this dissolution?)
It’s not pomp it’s a celebration and a ritual. I’ve spent 23 years of my life working with that man. It deserves some dignity and celebration.
Well, a bang, not a whimper it be.
Are you happy for 1000 Words to publish your obit, D?
I don’t know. I haven’t written it yet. Try not to let the tail of publicity do the wagging.
David, You speak in riddles.
The separation of this partnership has been fucking gruelling and painful. It was 23 years of intense and beautiful collaboration. You know how much had to be negotiated between us and what a wrestle collaboration involves. You also know the difference between our practices strutting, overconfident public performance and the very ordinary anxiety involved in the making of the work. I have asked a handful of people on the planet I love and who have influenced my work to put it to rest. Not to eulogise or publicise it but to put it to rest.
They have all been able to say yes or no. Just let me know.
This has been the obituary you wrote for Broomberg & Chanarin. I am happy to put my name to it.♦
Image courtesy the artists © Broomberg & Chanarin
The Late Estate of Broomberg & Chanarin at Fabra i Coats Contemporary Art Centre, Barcelona, 20 February – 23 May 2021. Curated by Joana Hurtado Matheu.
David Campany is a curator, writer and Managing Director of Programs at the International Center of Photography, New York.