Long Story Bit by Bit: Liberia Retold, Photography by Tim Hetherington

Photograph © 2009 Tim Hetherington from LONG STORY BIT BY BIT, Umbrage Editions 2009

(October 12 – December 6, 2012; Please note that the Gallery will be closed November 17-25 for Thanksgiving)
Long Story Bit by Bit: Liberia Retold, Photography by Tim Hetherington entwines documentary photography, oral testimony, and personal writing to explore the dynamics of power, international complicity, and the search for justice in recent Liberian history. Liberia, a country in West Africa, was founded by black Americans, many of whom were former slaves. Two of Liberia’s former presidents faced grisly ends: William Tolbert was disemboweled during a coup d’état, and Samuel Doe was filmed being tortured to death. More recently, former president Charles Taylor was sentenced to fifty years’ imprisonment for war crimes, thus becoming the first person to be tried and convicted by the International Criminal Court in The Hague. However, the terrible years of war and corruption have given way to a remarkable present, with 2011 Nobel Laureate Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf taking Liberia’s helm as the first female president of an African country.

This exhibition brings to life an extraordinary range of characters—from warlords to presidents, environmental activists to traditional hunters, political hustlers to democratic visionaries, all captured by the award-winning photographer and filmmaker Tim Hetherington over the course of his eight years of living and working in West Africa.

Known for his long-form documentary work, Hetherington was the recipient of a Columbia University Du Pont Award, a UK NESTA National Endowment Fellowship, and four World Press Photo prizes, including the 2007 World Press Photo of the Year. His film Restrepo, which he co-produced and -directed with Sebastian Junger, was nominated for an Academy Award in 2011 and won the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival in 2010. Tim Hetherington was killed while covering the siege of Misrata, Libya, in April 2011.

Long Story Bit by Bit: Liberia Retold, Photography by Tim Hetherington is organized by Umbrage Editions and curated by Nan Richardson.  This exhibition has been brought to Vanderbilt by The Ingram Commons, the Office of the Provost, the Dean of the College of Arts and Science, the Dean of Peabody College, the Dean of the School of Engineering, the Dean of the Blair School of Music, and the Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery and is part of the campuswide initiative “Human Identities: Global, Local, Personal.”

A screening of the film Iron Ladies of Liberia will be held at 5 p.m. on Thursday, October 25, 2012 in Cohen Memorial Hall Room 203, across from the Fine Arts Gallery. Held in conjunction with Long Story Bit by Bit, this screening is co-sponsored by Women’s and Gender Studies and the Fine Arts Gallery. There will be a discussion following the film led by Caree Banton, Ph.D. candidate in the Department of History. Banton’s research focuses on migration from the West Indies (particularly Barbados) to Africa (particularly Liberia) and the implications of this to experiences of freedom, citizenship and black nation-building. For more information on the film please visit Women Make Movies.