Tales Told Through a Lens

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IWM London opens its first exhibition tomorrow of work by celebrated photojournalist, filmmaker and humanitarian, Tim Hetherington, marking the 13th anniversary of his death whilst covering the Libyan Civil War.

Storyteller: Photography by Tim Hetherington showcases photography, films and objects from across Hetherington’s career; it follows the museum’s acquisition of his full archive from the Tim Hetherington Trust in 2017. Key works on display include his projects in Liberia (2003 – 2007), Afghanistan (2007 – 2008), and his final, unfinished project in Libya (2011). Newly displayed photographs and personal objects including cameras and diaries bring together aspects of Hetherington’s personal experiences alongside his most engaging works, for the first time. 

Featuring over 65 of his most striking photographs, Storyteller: Photography by Tim Hetherington shines a light on Hetherington’s unconventional approach to conflict photography. In contrast to photojournalists who spend just weeks in war zones before moving on to new assignments, Hetherington, who was awarded four World Press Photo awards and was nominated for an Academy Award for his and Sebastian Junger’s feature-length documentary, Restrepo, took an unusually long-term approach to projects, which saw him return to the same places over several months or years. 

Other defining and award-winning works by and about Hetherington, shown in dedicated screening rooms, include Sleeping Soldiers, Liberian Graffiti, Healing Sport, and his self-reflective film, Diary. The exhibition invites visitors to reflect on Hetherington’s legacy and ask themselves; ‘What is the role and responsibility of the photojournalist when documenting conflict?’  

Greg Brockett, Curator of Storyteller: Photography by Tim Hetherington, said: “In the process of curating this exhibition, and the years I have spent cataloguing and researching Tim Hetherington’s archive, I have discovered just how driven Hetherington was to explore his own fascination with the world through the lens of conflict. I’ve uncovered a depth of personal insight to Hetherington’s character and his thoughtful approach to his work. At IWM, we are delighted to be sharing this poignant insight to the person behind the lens as we invite visitors to explore a more thoughtful and visually captivating insight into conflict than we find in much of the news we watch, read or browse.” 

Speaking for the Tim Hetherington Trust, Judith Hetherington (Tim’s mother and founding Trustee) said: “Storyteller: Photography by Tim Hetherington fulfils the Trust’s core ambition that Tim’s visionary work should continue to inspire new generations of artists and journalists dedicated to bringing truth to the world.  We are particularly excited that Tim’s rich legacy has been amplified and given new relevance by the deep knowledge and historical perspective of the team at IWM. The result is an inspiring opportunity for old friends and tomorrow’s emerging talent to catch a spark from recent history and to carry it forward in their telling of the urgent stories of our time.” 

The Tim Hetherington and Conflict Imagery Research Network, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, helped to inform the content development of this exhibition.

More details about the photographer: https://www.iwm.org.uk/history/tim-hetherington 

Storyteller: Photography by Tim Hetherington is a free exhibition and opens at Imperial War Museum, SE1, London on 20 April 2024.


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