October 2015 marked the 40th anniversary of the outbreak of conflict in Western Sahara. It is a conflict that remains unresolved and has resulted in an estimated 160,000 people being made refugees, many of whom are now 2nd or 3rd generation.
In Toy Soldiers, Simon Brann Thorpe blurs the boundaries between document, landscape and concept-based photography to explore this conflict. He examines the impact and potential consequences of the stalemate. Through real soldiers – posed as toy soldiers – he reveals the current situation in Western Sahara, a nation in waiting trapped in an historic cycle of colonial conflict, displacement and endless non-resolution.
The work is a unique collaboration between Thorpe, a military commander and the men under his command. Shot entirely on location in the isolated and hauntingly beautiful territory known as ‘Liberated Western Sahara’ it is influenced by the historic works of photographers such as Mathew Brady, Roger Fenton and Edward Curtis. Toy Soldiers provides a contemporary archive on the issue of non-resolution and the paradigm of post colonial cycles of violence within modern conflicts.
Born in Zambia in 1970, Simon Brann Thorpe studied photography at the Alberta College of Art & Design, Canada. He has exhibited widely throughout Europe and has received, or been shortlisted for, many prestigious awards including the International Photography Awards, the Aftermath Award, the Arte Laguna Prize and the Association of Photographers Awards.
112 pages, 96 colour photographs
280mm x 248mm
Published as a Limited Edition of 750 copies