Hetherington’s tightly-framed portraits convey an intimacy not typically associated with representations of the military. In contrast to the tendency to see modern day warriors as dehumanized, he depicts them shirtless and vulnerable (albeit secure enough to sleep soundly) to expose in public the private act of being asleep. These photographs take no political position on the war in Afghanistan; instead, Hetherington’s images tell a timeless story about the lives of men in war zones. In the summer of 2011, Canada officially ended its direct combat role in Afghanistan; Canadian troops in the region now train the Afghani military, a mission in many ways no less dangerous. Shown on billboards across the country, Hetherington’s soldiers evoke the idea of tactical vulnerability. By implication, the project starts a conversation about Canada’s role in foreign military conflicts—and how such engagements effect those who participate on our behalf.
The Tim Hetherington Foundation is currently being established to provide assistance to struggling students, artists and those in need around the world. For more information and details on where to send donations, please go to www.timhetherington.org