Simon Norfolk: Time taken

3 Aug - 10 Sep 2015

“The winter snow marches up to the summer peaks and then slowly returns, like the gentlest of waves lapping on a lakeshore. The surface of a field rises when it is full of crops and falls again when it is harvested. When the branch of a tree is full of sap it is heavy and it leans; in the autumn it is lighter and it ebbs.”

- Simon Norfolk

Michael Hoppen Gallery is delighted to announce Simon Norfolk’s third exhibition of photographs with the gallery, Time Taken, a poetic tracing of time on the war-torn landscape of Afghanistan.


Between 2013 and 2014 Simon Norfolk visited the Bamiyan Valley in Afghanistan, an area of the country once famous for its 170 foot tall Buddhas and more so now for their demise at the hands of the Taliban in 2001. Setting up his camera at over a dozen locations over a twelve-month period, Norfolk looked to depict the slow, silent release of the seasons in ‘a year long un-blinking honesty.’


A copse of trees, a pair of deserted Soviet tanks, a boarded up town at the foot of the mountains; these anchors of the landscape provide the backdrop as we watch the seasons slip into one another. Described by Norfolk as being like the stanzas of a love poem to the Afghan landscape, time unfurls seamlessly in the photographs. Seeking to define the space between the works as much as the images themselves, Time Taken is the first in a three part series of ‘stratographs,’ studies in the passing of time.


The cyclical nature of the images speaks of both the constant presence of war in this country, but also of a perseverance and hope as the land continues to be ploughed and planted. As the artist himself has said “The main creation of Afghan culture is the landscape itself. It is all around, but one has to stop, sit quietly and take Time, to see it at work.” 


Simon Norfolk (born in Lagos, Nigeria, 1963) completed his education at Oxford and Bristol Universities in the U.K. His work has been widely recognized: he has won The Discovery Prize at Les Rencontres d’Arles in 2005; the Infinity Prize from The International Center of Photography in 2004; and the European Publishing Award in 2002. In 2003 he was shortlisted for the Citibank Prize (now known as the Deutsche Böurse Prize), and in 2013 he won the Prix Pictet Commission. His work has been shown internationally, and is held in many major collections, including the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, SF MOMA, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Amon Carter Museum of American Art in Fort Worth, TX, and the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, MO. In 2011 the Tate Modern in London held a solo exhibition of his Burke+Norfolk series. In 2014 he was included in Constructing Worlds at the Barbican and Time, Conflict, Photographs at Tate Modern.