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War In Pictures

A powerful new exhibition at the National Media Museum

Written by . Published on August 30th 2011.


War In Pictures

CELEBRATED Magnum photographer Donovan Wylie brings his reflections on the architecture of modern conflict to the National Media Museum.

In 2010 the Imperial War Museum and the National Media Museum began a collaboration to embed Donovan Wylie, Bradford Fellow of Photography 2010 - 11, with the Canadian contingent of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan. 

"Belfast-born Wylie has remained fascinated by the ways in which conflict shapes environments and lives. Several of his earlier works were influenced by the impact of the Troubles on his homeland."

He became the first Imperial War Museum official photographer to work in a war zone since the end of the First World War. 

The result is Outposts: Donovan Wylie, Bradford Fellowship 2010 – 11, which opens at the National Media Museum on 1 October 2011 and is free to enter.

From December 8, 2010, Wylie spent six weeks, including Christmas, in this arid region of mountains and desert plains as he photographed the Canadian network of temporary military bases - known as Forward Operating Bases, or FOBs.

Strategically placed, often on the sites of ancient defence posts constructed during previous conflicts, the bases are used to maintain security in the Province.

His photographs survey the landscape protected by ISAF forces in this region of Southern Afghanistan and juxtapose the perspective of the observers with that of the observed. 

They represent a unique document of the impact of contemporary conflict on the landscape of Kandahar, and the contribution to the security of the area by the Canadian Army, which is scheduled to withdraw from Afghanistan this year.

Throughout his career, Belfast-born Wylie has remained fascinated by the ways in which conflict shapes environments and lives. Several of his earlier works were influenced by the impact of the Troubles on his homeland. The theme of surveillance buildings can be seen in his photographs of the Maze prison (The Maze, 2004) and military watchtowers in Northern Ireland (British Watchtowers, 2007). The exhibition also includes work from these earlier projects. 

“Throughout his career Donovan has explored modern military architecture and the ways it is deployed in observation. Despite the fact that he does not class himself as a war photographer his images in Outposts provide a revealing and visually compelling record of war,” says Philippa Wright, Curator of Photographs at the National Media Museum.

Donovan Wylie is the 15th Bradford Fellow. Established in 1985, the Fellowship in Photography is a partnership between Bradford College, the University of Bradford and the National Media Museum.  Working with mid-career photographers, the partners support the culture of photography through a varied programme of exhibition and teaching activities.

This exhibition forms part of ‘Ways of Looking’, a new photography festival in Bradford, 1-30 October 2011, and is accompanied by the book, Outposts, published by Steidl.

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