Inner Light: Portraits of the Blind, Sierra Leone 1999–2003
April 11 – May 18, 2013
Yossi Milo Gallery is pleased to present Inner Light: Portraits of the Blind, Sierra Leone 1999- 2003, an exhibition of black-and-white photographs by Tim Hetherington. The exhibition will open on Thursday, April 11 and will be on view through Saturday, May 18. An opening reception will be held on Thursday, April 11 from 6:00 - 8:00 pm. This will be the artist’s second exhibition with the gallery.
Inner Light presents twelve small-scale, gelatin silver print portraits inspired by Hetherington’s visit to West Africa in 1999. Hetherington spent five years (1999 – 2003) developing this series, which depicts young men and women at the Milton Margai School for the Blind in Freetown, Sierra Leone. These moving photographs reflect Hetherington’s humanistic approach to the depiction of warzones and conflict.
The civil war in Sierra Leone left many people with serious medical conditions. In 2004, Hetherington wrote that in addition to amputations, “the fighters of the Revolutionary Front (RUF) also terrorized people by cutting their eyes out. Others lost their eyes to shrapnel or as a result of being caught up in combat. Many simply lost their eyesight because they did not have access to a doctor and therefore a simple medical condition developed and went untreated.”
Moved by the courageous young people he met there, Hetherington became a champion of the school where he was known as “Uncle Tim.” The artist dedicated his efforts to improving the educational programs of students and established a charity to benefit the school, which he continued to support until his death on April 20, 2011.
In a forward to an unpublished book about the school, Hetherington wrote, “While exploring for myself the shades, textures and shapes that exist in the lives of the children...I have found that ... they learn to live with blindness and to survive in their respective environment while seeking an education and guidance that will help them throughout their lives....Many of them have an intense desire to communicate their experience and connect with people outside their day-to-day lives.”
Inner Light is a unique look at Hetherington’s portraiture in black and white. After 2004, the artist worked primarily in color and although portraiture was woven into his oeuvre, it did not form the core of his documentary photographs as it did in the early 2000s. These photographs mark a moment of transition in Hetherington’s career and stand as a poignant body of work.
This exhibition coincides with the second anniversary of Tim’s untimely death, as well as HBO’s launch of the documentary Which Way Is The Front Line From Here? The Life and Time of Tim Hetherington, directed by Sebastian Junger, which will premiere on April 10, 2013. Born in 1970 in Liverpool, Tim Hetherington graduated from Oxford University and later studied at Cardiff University. A contributing photographer at Vanity Fair, Tim received numerous awards including a Fellowship from the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (2000 – 2004), a Hasselblad Foundation Grant (2002), the 2007 World Press Photo of the Year, the Rory Peck Award for Features (2008), an Alfred I. DuPont Columbia Award (2009), as well as an Academy Award nomination and the Leadership in Entertainment Award by Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America for the film Restrepo (2011). Hetherington’s photographs are held in several museum collections, including Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; and the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, MO. After his death, the largest town square in Ajdabiya, Libya was renamed Tim Hetherington Square by anti-Qaddafi rebels.
Charles Fréger’s exhibition Wilder Mann will be on view in the West Gallery while Tim Hetherington’s exhibition Inner Light is on view in the East Gallery.