Larry Towell and Donovan Wylie

War vets


LARRY TOWELL AND DONOVAN WYLIE at the Royal Ontario Museum (100 Queen’s Park), to July 8. $15, stu/srs $13.50 Friday 4:30-8:30 pm $9, stu/srs $8. 416-586-8000. See listing. Rating: NNNN


Magnum photographers Larry Towell and Donovan Wylie, based in Ontario and Northern Ireland respectively, take different but complementary approaches to the war in Afghanistan.

Wylie’s Outposts project focuses on temporary military architecture. In his large, intricately detailed prints of peaceful-looking sand-coloured landscapes, Canadian Forces gunner towers and lookouts made of rubble-filled boxes paradoxically evoke children’s building-block constructions while also echoing the mud brick village buildings in valleys below.

Towell, working mostly in black-and-white, turns his camera on people caught up in the war. His experienced photojournalistic eye homes in on telling and dramatic scenes of fear (arrests, wounded soldiers, prisoners), despair (drug addicts), intensity (Taliban fighters) and the persistence of life (street vendors, amputees) – categories that often overlap.

Wylie’s from-a-distance and Towell’s up-close perspectives combined give a vivid picture of this tragic and misguided ongoing conflict.

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