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A picture is worth a thousand words

Comes On / Goes Off

Nico Boon

In 2002 Nico Boon found an album of photographs at a jumble sale. A woman covers her murdered children. A North Korean soldier holds the hacked-off head of an enemy soldier high in the air. The unforgettable pictures were taken by war photographer Margaret Bourke-White and in ‘Comes On / Goes Off’, along with the photographer’s life story, they are at the centre of a collage in which parallel lives come together and find a place for themselves, from Che Guevara to the author. All stories tell us something about mortality, human lives and the beginning or ending of stories.

Boon intertwines big stories with very personal events. At the same time he explores the various meanings and purposes attributed to photography.
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What can pictures tell us about the lives and motives of those depicted in them, or indeed of the person pressing the shutter? Can we even reconstruct a person’s life? With Bourke-White’s photographs we look at the world through the eyes of someone else, getting to know stories we have forgotten or never knew. ‘Comes On / Goes Off’ is a quest to discover the outer limits of stories and storytelling.