Ask someone to think of the country Rwanda and they will rarely be able to associate it with anything beyond war and genocide. But, 20 years on from the massacre of an estimated 1 million people, the news that the country has found ways to live with its traumatic past may be a surprise. As is often the case with war-torn countries, moving on – in the mind of the outsider – is often a plague in itself. This new exhibition at the Cultural Institute at Kings College London presents an alternative viewpoint to this: a body of work created by Rwandan photographers to represent this new-found life and development.
Curated by Dr Zoe Norridge, lecturer in English and Comparative literature and Mark Sealy, Director of Autograph, the exhibition represents the fruits of a workshop led by established African photographers Brendan Bannon and Andrew Esiebo. Using their own expertise, the facilitators have worked with a group of Rwandan photographers to deconstruct how international eyes view the country and to make active challenges to these preconceptions. Over the past 20 years urban life has developed, a new fashionable elite have emerged and the economy is strengthening, whilst in rural areas the scars of war remain. The reality of living side by side with people who have killed members of your family is a burden shouldered by many.
The facilitators, Esiebo and Bannon, both award-winning photographers, have worked across the continent and have a particular interest in enabling self-representation. Eseibo in particular has worked with socially excluded children in the My Eye, My World project: a campaign that rings true with the work of Autograph, an organisation led by Sealy (co-curator). The exhibition’s aim is to begin, with an albeit small step, to redefine Rwandan life, beyond the trappings of past atrocities: a fascinating glimpse at life beyond war. (Words: Laura Thornley)
From 21st March to 30th April. For more info, visit: www.kcl.ac.uk/cultural/culturalinstitute/showcase/current/whatson/exhibitions