In 2004 the American porn distributor Chris Wilson initiatated the website www.nowthatsfuckedup.com. He struck a deal with american soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan: they could trade their war photographies, taken in conflict areas, against porn. This image-archive, which portrayed the immense horrors of war, was removed by the US Government in 2006. Before the censorship was enacted, Kvam downloaded all its content, including photographies and blogtexts, to his hard drive. He later published the material as a book (2011). Kvam’s publication is an extension of the peace-activist Ernst Friedrich’s book Krieg dem Kriege, which documented the horrors of WW1. Friedrich’s book was also censored.
Kvam’s latest works are situated in the area between aesthetics and ethics, art history and war documentation. After a series of articles in the Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet, concerning Kvam’s publication of the image archive, the website where a digital copy of the book could be downloaded suffered a major hacker attack. Attack is a transcript from the web servers log file documenting the attack that disabled the web server. Viewed from a distance, the work appears as a grey monochrome, but moving up close a more complex pattern appears. A book burning on a city square makes the power at play transparent while the censorship of an e-book escapes a clear representation – the flames are hidden in a series of source codes.
Thomas Kvam (b. 1972) is educated at the Goldsmiths College in London and the National Academy of Fine Art in Oslo. Kvam’s work is included in the collection of Centre Pompidou.