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Simon Norfolk
Date: British, b. 1963
Biography:

Simon Norfolk was born in Lagos, Nigeria, and studied at University of Wales, Bristol University, and Hertford College, Oxford. His photographs appear regularly in National Geographic, The New York Times Magazine, and the Guardian Weekend.

According to the organizers of Ecotopia: The Second ICP Triennial of Photography and Video, "Norfolk has built up a body of work that focuses on the ruins left in the wake of wars and conflicts in such places as Bosnia, Liberia, Afghanistan, and Iraq. He may be best known for his book on Afghanistan, published in 2002, which documented a smoking, decimated landscape strewn with weapons and the twisted skeletal remains of buildings. But Norfolk is also interested in the portrayal of ruins in works of art throughout history, and the meanings and metaphors attributed to them. He cites the seventeenth-century painters Jean-Baptist-Camille Corot and Nicolas Poussin, for example, who depicted ruins as metaphors for the foolishness of pride and the vanity of empire. Norfolk’s North Gate of Baghdad (2003), with its muted colors, painterly sweep of tree branches, and the remnant of the mustard-colored gate, does evoke, more than anything, the tradition of history painting, or a landscape by Lorrain. We cannot help but appreciate the aesthetic aspects of such an image--and so a certain tension arises from our resistance to the notion of aestheticizing suffering or making metaphors out of terrible destruction."

Norfolk’s works are held in collections including the Museum of Fine Arts Houston; the J. Paul Getty Museum; and the Tate Modern. He has won Le Prix Dialogue at Les Rencontres d'Arles in 2005; an Infinity Award from the International Center of Photography in 2004; and the Foreign Press Club of America Award in 2003.

Mary O'Donnell Hulme

References:

Burke, John, and Simon Norfolk. Burke + Norfolk: Photographs from the War in Afghanistan. Stockport, England: Dewi Lewis, 2011.

Norfolk, Simon. Afghanistan: Chronotopia. Stockport, England: Dewi Lewis, 2002.

Norfolk, Simon. Bleed. Stockport, England: Dewi Lewis, 2005.

Norfolk, Simon. For Most of It I Have No Words: Genocide, Landscape, Memory. Stockport, England: Dewi Lewis, 1998.

Wallis, Brian, et al. Ecotopia: The Second ICP Triennial of Photography and Video. Goettingen, Germany: Steidl, 2006