Thursday, May 17, 2012

Photography/Exhibition: Tim Hetherington Retrospective

I am SO happy I was able to catch this Tim Hetherington retrospective/exhibition before it closes this Saturday - and if you haven't seen it yet you must go to the Yossi Milo Gallery to see it, especially seeing that it is the first major exhibition of his work in the US (which really surprises me).

The front room is devoted to a collection of Tim's photos taken in Liberia while he was covering the civil war there. The second room contains a set of photos taken of US soldiers based in Afghanistan (taken from the series named Infidel) . The gallery is also running two short films made by Tim himself, Diary and Sleeping Soldiers. Diary is composed of a collage of footage taken by Tim over his 10 years of reporting, and, in his own words is "a highly personal and experimental film that expresses the subjective experience of my work, and was made as an attempt to locate myself after ten years of reporting. It's a kaleidoscope of images that link our western reality to the seemingly distant worlds we see in the media". You can watch it online HERE - such haunting film. The juxtaposition of driving down a road in Africa and driving down a road in England is really well done - same type of journey, completely different perspective and views. In one, people walk down the street, lost in their own thoughts, moving along to their next destination. In the other people are walking to survive.

Tim died in Libya last year while covering the civil war there. He was located in Misrata with a group of rebel soldiers, as well as a few other foreign journalists and photographers. Fellow photographer Chris Hondros also died in the Gaddafi-supporter mortar attack on the group. Tim's work has always provoked many emotions and thoughts in me, I think mainly because he really focused on the individual amidst a world in conflict and war. His images provide an insight into how life goes on when the world is literally falling apart around you, for example, the fisherman rowing past the half-sunken warship, or the women carrying their babies in one arm and ammunition in the other.

His Infidel series is based on time Tim spent with a group of American troops stationed in the very dangerous eastern Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley. The series portrays the men on a day-to-day basis, and shows an intimate view of life between the wait and the battle: soldiers sleeping, playing, waiting, on patrol and joking. The one that haunts me the most is the one taken of a soldier standing against a wall, the background a little blurry, with a look of complete horror and exhaustion on his face. If I'm, not mistaken Tim won the World Press Photo of the Year award for this one.
Also, if you haven't seen Restrepo, the documentary on American soldiers posted in Afghanistan that Tim made with Sebastian Junger (nominated for an Oscar in 2011), then you must watch it.

I have so much admiration for people who willingly place themselves at the front line of danger in order to report it back to the rest of the world in the form of images and words. Without these people we would never get to see both the beauty and the atrocities that man can commit. In my opinion there is photography and then there is amazing photography - Tim was definitely one of those amazing photographers, every image telling a story or three. I wish he were still around to provide us with more amazing images.

Additional information:
Yossi Milo Gallery (245 Tenth Ave, NYC - between 24th & 25th streets)
Chris Hondros
NYT Parting Glance coverage

All images: Tim Hetherington/Panos Pictures

No comments: