The National Media Museum, in a unique collaboration with the Imperial War Museum, is curating and hosting the premiere exhibition of new work exploring the architecture of modern conflict by Magnum photographer Donovan Wylie.
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. In doing so, he became the first Imperial War Museum official photographer to work in a war zone since the end of the First World War.
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.
Outposts is Wylie’s second solo exhibition at the National Media Museum, following Losing Ground in 1998. It also continues his collaboration with the Imperial War Museum which began in 2008 when he photographed the Green Zone, the heavily fortified administrative centre of Baghdad controlled by the American occupying forces since the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
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 formed part of ‘Ways of Looking’, a new photography festival in Bradford, 1-30 October 2011.