As Magnum now have representational rights over Tim Hetherington’s archive of images, the work he was making in Libya has surfaced. A selection of 31 images from the 53 rolls of film Hetherington shot on his Mamiya 7II. Below is the text Magnum have provided to explain the work and a few of my favourite images, the only question left is when do we see the other 499 images he shot before his death?
In April of 2011, Tim Hetherington travelled to Libya to photograph the ongoing uprising against the government. His goal was not to photograph the “news” of the day, but rather to focus on the idea of what he described as the “Theater of War” and young men acting out what they must imagine as the Hollywood version of how a rebel soldier looks and acts. He did not use a digital camera like other news photographers on the ground. Instead, he made these pictures with a medium format film camera giving the images much greater detail and clarity. When he was killed on April 20th by a mortar in the city of Misurata, he had photographed some 53 rolls of film. These are the images from those rolls, the last pictures Tim Hetherington would make.
You can see the other images on Magnum’s Website here.
Further reading on Magnum’s acquisition of Hetherington’s archive here.
"Infra, Richard Mosse’s first book, offers a radical rethinking of how to depict a conflict as complex and intractable as that of the ongoing war in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Mosse photographs both the rich topography, inscribed with the traces of conflicting interests, as well as rebel groups of constantly shifting allegiances at war with the Congolese national army (itself a patchwork of recently integrated warlords and their militias). For centuries, the Congo has repeatedly compelled and defied the Western imagination. Mosse brings to this subject the use of a discontinued aerial surveillance film. Originally developed for military reconnaissance, it registers an invisible spectrum of infrared light, rendering the green landscape in vivid hues of lavender, crimson, and hot pink. The results offer a fevered inflation of the traditional reportage document, underlining the growing tension between art, fiction, and photojournalism. Infra initiates a dialogue with photography that begins as an intoxicating meditation on a broken genre, but ends as a haunting elegy for a vividly beautiful land touched by unspeakable tragedy."
This collectors edition is limited to a print run of 500, priced at $80 can be bought here.
'Tim Bowditch is a photographer, living and working in London. His brother, Matt Bowditch, is a bandsman in the Royal Marines. For his band duties, Matt is based in Exmouth, but in April 2011 he began a three month tour of Afghanistan.
When Matt announced that he was going to Afghanistan, Tim decided that he wanted to collaborate with his brother on a photographic project. For Christmas 2010, Tim gave Matt a Fuji Instant camera, and enough film to last him for his three month tour.
Tim asked Matt to take pictures of anything he liked, the only request was for ‘quiet photos’. The three months of Matt’s tour were marked by three packages (or ‘blueys’, taking their name from the blue paper upon which letter to friends and family are written) of photos, sent back to Tim in England. Tim would choose the images that he liked and the next batch of photos would be shaped by Tim’s selection.’
'The relationship between photojournalism and ‘art photography’ is often strained and ambiguous. How do contemporary artists accept or reject the strategies of reportage, and to what effect?'
A talk chaired by Associate Editor for Frieze Christy Lange, with Adam Broomberg, Oliver Chanarin and Taryn Simons.
1.30pm, Thursday 13th October at the Frieze Art Fair, Regents Park, London.
Interview by Aoife Rosenmeyer
Richard Mosse is resting after two hectic years, a whirlwind of work in locations including Iraq, the West Bank, Gaza, and the Congo funded by an Annenberg Fellowship from Yale School of Art; right now he deserves some time off. We rendezvous on a train from Zurich to Lausanne, where we will visit “reGeneration2: Tomorrow’s Photographers Today,” an exhibition that includes his work at the Musée de l’Elysée. Mosse is en route from his parents’ home in Kilkenny, Ireland, via Austria, to the raucous folk festival in Serbian Guca, where he hopes to meet some former fighters in the region’s ethnic wars. His most recent series, “Infra,” of photos taken in the Democratic Republic of Congo, has sparked criticism from photojournalists — grist for the mill of an artist who operates at the point where art and journalism meet.
Now a resident of New York, Mosse was born in Dublin in 1980 and moved to London to study English literature before shifting focus from words to images while completing his masters at the London Consortium. After a year at Goldsmiths College, he enrolled at Yale, where he earned an MFA in photography in 2008. He has already had solo shows at such venues as Jack Shainman (who represents his work), in New York; the Fotofest 2010 Biennial, in Houston; and the Eigse Arts Festival, in Ireland. His documentary prints, measuring a monumental six by eight feet, have portrayed plane wrecks, bombed buildings, and models built for airport fire-safety training, while his thoughtful investigative video works probe both the verbal and visual vocabularies of politically fragile locations.
Tall and broad-shouldered, Mosse has the bearing of a man who doesn’t mind getting his hands dirty. For years he has traveled to sites of conflict, drawn by the dense histories that underlie so many disputes. Mosse found compelling situations but was dissatisfied with images produced following photographic tradition. “The camera’s lens is brutally dumb. That dumbness is terribly frustrating,” he says, “but it’s also a fabulous tool for unpacking history.” Mosse agrees with Susan Sontag’s assertion that photojournalism compromises its output to make images audiences can assimilate. In contrast, he is interested in the world as it is, and he makes art, not journalism, trying to access the sublime to convey invisible truths.
In 2009 he went to Iraq, where he was embedded with U.S. troops. The catalyst for the trip was a “New Yorker” article in which Jon Lee Anderson described Saddam Hussein’s palaces, 81 monumental compounds with which Saddam had studded the country to display his might and some of which he never set foot in. They are easily defensible and centrally located, and in 2003 the invading U.S. forces immediately occupied several of them. This struck Mosse as symbolically replacing a despot with an aggressor. “If you’re trying to convince a population that you have liberated them from a terrible dictator,” he says, “why would you then sit on his throne?” Thanks to accreditation from the “Yale Daily News,” he spent a month living with the troops, using any opportunity to document both the colossal structures and the camps that had been set up inside.
Mosse was mindful of Jean Baudrillard’s provocative claim, made in his essay “The Gulf War Did Not Take Place,” that the first Gulf conflict was actually a scripted media event. From the same events that provided sound bites on international news channels during the second war, he created the 2009 “Breach,” a series of immediate and unexpected images of ornate if crumbling buildings and of soldiers marking time within them. Mosaics, chandeliers, and marble contrast sharply with an alfresco gym and the chipboard-divided accommodations, the internal military posters providing their own version of propaganda. The title could refer to the gap in Saddam’s defenses that the military has filled, the break with tradition, or a breach of faith. The photographs testify that the palaces, so long targets on the radar of the International Atomic Energy Agency, remain a representational minefield.
If Iraq’s media profile is high, the Democratic Republic of Congo’s is low. The turbulence of the past decades — so “immanent,” Mosse says, “it infuses Congo and has done for 50 years” — remains virtually unseen in the West because of its complexity, our lack of interest, and the fact that it’s convenient for us remain ignorant about the dubious source of the metals in our mobile phones. Mosse discovered that in the country itself the war is also, in a sense, invisible, conducted with so-called white weapons, silent arms like machetes and clubs. The rebel Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda live nomadically in the equatorial jungle that covers the country and also swallows the traces of rape, murder, and pillaging. To capture this hidden conflict, Mosse used an unstable and almost defunct photographic medium called color infrared, or false-color film, designed by Kodak in conjunction with the U.S. military, which allows shelters camouflaged in dense forest to be spotted from the air.
The result was “Infra,” produced at the close of his Annenberg marathon last summer. The aesthetic of color infrared has been employed by the likes of the Grateful Dead for album artwork, and some photojournalists accused Mosse of frivolity for using it to create his beautiful but threatening scenes, rendered in powdery pink. But he finds the charge absurd, given the history of the medium.
If the artificial prettiness of color infrared film helps him make the invisible more visible, all the better. Ultimately, he says, “naturalism has no greater claim to veracity than other strategies.”