Art & Photography

Tim Hetherington: You Never See Them Like This

Open Eye Gallery director Lorenzo Fusi on the late Magnum photographer’s images of off-duty US soldier in war zones

Specialist Tad Donoho screams with pain after being administered a ‘pink belly’ for his birthday. Each member of the platoon strikes his stomach until it begins to bruise, hence the name ‘pink belly’.

This autumn, two years after his death in Misurata, Libya, the Open Eye Gallery pays tribute to the work of Liverpool-born photojournalist Tim Hetherington with an exhibition focused on his photography and film work. Drawing visual material from the Infidel series, the exhibition offers an intimate insight into the lives of American soldiers in conflict but beyond the action of war. Tim himself once said: “I became less interested in photographing combat and more interested in the relationships that existed between the soldiers […] I saw that there was a special kind of bonding going on – something forged by the extreme circumstances. Someone once told me, “Only in war is it possible for men to demonstrate their love for one another.”

“I saw that there was a special kind of bonding going on – something forged by the extreme circumstances”

These two selected images differently speak of Hetherington’s ability to capture ordinary moments of apparent inactivity and transform them in highly symbolic and almost iconic photographs. Whilst the soldier practicing his swing against the beautiful and dramatic landscape of the Korengal Valley speaks of the cultural clash and collision of two civilisations instrumental to the American invasion of Afghanistan, the “pink belly” administered to the other soldier on the day of his birthday, comments on the way affection and physical proximity are expressed amidst a men-only community.

Tim Hetherington: You Never See Them Like This, Open Eye Gallery,19 Mann Island, Liverpool Waterfront, Liverpool, L3 1BP, open until November 24th, 2013

Jones practices his golf swing while at the main KOP firebase in the valley. Soldiers spend about two weeks at the Restrepo outpost before coming back to the main KOP base where they can get a hot shower and call their family.