Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin
War Primer 2

War Primer 2 is a limited edition book that physically inhabits the pages of Bertolt Brecht's remarkable 1955 publication War Primer. 

The original is  a collection of Brecht's newspaper clippings, each accompanied by a four-line poem that he called Photo-epigrams. It was the culmination of almost three decades of intermittent activity.  The title deliberately recalls the textbooks used to teach elementary school children how to read; Brecht's book is a practical manual, demonstrating how to "read" or "translate" press photographs. Brecht was profoundly uneasy about the affirmative role played by the medium within the political economy of capitalism and referred to press photographs as heiroglyphics in need of decoding.

War Primer 2 is the belated sequel. While Brecht's War Primer was concerned with images of the Second World War, War Primer 2 is concerned with the images of conflict generated by both sides of the so-called "War on Terror". 

"Don't start with the good old things but the bad new ones" Brecht famously said, and in this spirit Broomberg and Chanarin have gathered their material from the internet - compressed, uploaded, ripped, squeezed, reformatted, re-edited and often anonymous images - rather than sifting through newspapers with a pair of scissors.

Heiner Müller once said that to use Brecht without changing him is an act of betrayal. With War Primer 2 Broomberg and Chanarin have appropriated Brecht's original, giving us their critique of images of contemporary conflict, which is simultaneously a betrayal and a homage.


In the press

Moors Magazine
IMA Magazine
The Eye of Photography
Svenska Dakbladet [Swedish newspaper]
lOeil de la Photographie
Humanities [academic journal]
AnOther Magazine
Cool Hunting

Deutsche Börse Photography Prize 2013

Download the free digital edition

Limited Edition of 100 copies

100 pages
Original Bertolt Brecht hardback book (this edition published 1998) with text silkscreened into the book and 85 colour images tipped-in by hand

Publication date: October 2011

€5,650.00 £5,000.00 $6,300.00

ISBN 978-1-907946-15-8

Paperback 2018 edition available