007 We Are Here / Heaven and Hell


007 We Are Here / Heaven and Hell, Giclée printing on fine art paper Edition of 25

The project documents the experiences of Afghan interpreters who were resettled to the U.K. under the Afghan Relocation and Assistance Policy (ARAP), launched in April 2021, through photography portraiture and interviews.

By centering on Afghan interpreters’ own stories, viewers are invited to engage with the people behind the headlines and numbers. ‘We Are Here, Because You Were There: Afghan Interpreters in U.K.’ also encourages reflection on the deep entanglement between the U.K. and Afghanistan, which have shaped Afghan interpreters’ lives from childhood or early adulthood. Together their individual stories and images reflect the structural and lasting impact of Britain’s military employment practices, migration laws and foreign policy.

The portraits have been taken and edited in a manner to help anonymise the newly arrived interpreters who have been at risk and who have family in Afghanistan still under threat. The individual portraits presented are a composite of up to a dozen frames which have each been completely blurred or pixelated and then merged to present a final portrait. This process can also be seen as inflicting trauma on the portraits, in acknowledgement of events experienced when serving with the British Army, other NATO forces and escaping Afghanistan.

The quotes are taken from in-depth interviews which cover the Afghan interpreters’ motivations to work for the British Armed Forces, their working alongside soldiers, the threats they faced in Afghanistan, their evacuation, their early experiences in the U.K. and hopes for the future.

Andy Barnham is a portrait photographer, a British Army veteran. He is also the son of a refugee; his mother and her family fled Vietnam in the closing days of the Vietnam War finding sanctuary in the U.S.A.

Andy discovered his passion for photography while serving as an officer in the Royal Artillery and carried a camera in addition to his rifle. Of the locations he deployed to during his service it was Afghanistan which influenced him the most; he learned Dari deploying as a military interpreter in Kabul in 2006 and volunteered to return in a front line capacity, mentoring Afghan National Army soldiers in Helmand Province, in 2008.

After leaving the British Army in 2009 Andy became immersed in the menswear scene and has photographed the best of British heritage and craft for luxury editorial titles for over a decade. The ‘scruffiest officer’ in the mess found himself taking sartorial photography on Savile Row and fashion on the runways of London, Milan and Paris.

Andy now focuses his camera on portraiture. He draws upon his unique combination of international, military and civilian experience to break down barriers and to engage and create relationships with his subjects in order to capture meaningful portraits.

Additional information

Weight .7 kg
Dimensions 70 × 50 × 1 cm
Portrait + Quote or Portrait only

Portrait + Quote, Portrait only

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