We are proud to announce that Helmand Return, a new body of work by acclaimed commercial photographer Robert Wilson, will be seen across the country on a selection of Primesight's billboards for two weeks in October, supported by Arts Council England. This project builds on Wilson's 2008 project, Helmand, which recorded the faces and places behind the Afghan conflict.
This site-specific exhibition showcases a selection of photographs taken on Wilson's recent trip to Afghanistan, and documents the British troops' final tour of duty and homecoming preparations. As an official war artist, Wilson was granted unprecedented access to the personnel and logistical operations surrounding the drawdown in Afghanistan, allowing a rare insight into the process of ending war. These images offer a uniquely beautiful perspective on a much documented conflict with many never before recorded sights both on and off base.
Each billboard's location is determined by the biographical data gathered from the returning troops, allowing this outdoor exhibition to be both a literal and metaphorical return home. This pop-up approach sees images of individual military personnel infiltrate the communities most affected by the Afghan war, and encourages us to actively engage with the conflict by juxtaposing familiar everyday locations such as a local Royal Mail depot with the Post Office in Camp Bastian.
It is easy to think of wars as happening 'elsewhere' and to 'other people', but this project aims to highlight the toll that this war has taken in a relevant but unsentimental way, bringing the exhibition to the people, rather than the people to the exhibition.
In a year of retrospective imagery surrounding the centenary of WWI, these images provide a fresh perspective within the traditions of conflict photography.
This exhibition has been made possible with the support of the Arts Council England, the MoD, Posterscope, Gallery One and a Half, Primesight and Clear Channel.
For a map of the poster locations, click here.