Life Now

21 Mar 2014

King’s College London and Survivors Fund (SURF) are organising a reflective event commemorating the twentieth anniversary of the Rwandan genocide against the Tutsi on Friday 21st March. In parallel, King’s brings the work of contemporary Rwandan photographers to international audiences for the first time in its exhibition, “Rwanda in Photographs: Death Then, Life Now”.

The commemoration will include survivor testimony, discussion of the challenges faced by survivors today, Rwandan music and a candle lighting ceremony.

Twenty years after the genocide, that led to the deaths of an estimated one million people, “Rwanda in Photographs: Death Then, Life Now” poses a range of questions. These intimate images of everyday life in the Great Lakes communicate the complexities of survival after mass violence. How do you live side by side with people who killed your families? How can you rebuild lives that were almost completely destroyed?

Photograph by Andrew Esiebo

Photograph by Andrew Esiebo

The photographs are the fruits of a workshop led by award-winning international photographers Andrew Esiebo (Nigeria) and Brendan Bannon (US and Kenya) in which photographers from Rwanda questioned the ways in which their country is portrayed internationally. Too often the country is reduced to images of violence and death, as seen through the eyes of outsiders. For this exhibition, Rwandans have challenged this gaze and now show us their country through their own eyes.

The resulting images reveal a nation in the midst of profound change. In capital city Kigali the economy is strengthening, new buildings are springing up and a fashionable elite is taking root. In more rural areas the scars of genocide are still visibly present in ongoing neighbourly tensions and changing but enduring poverty.

This exhibition marks a step change in the global perception of a country. Photographs by Rwandan artists are yet to be circulated widely among international networks. Now, two decades after the events that brought this small East-African country onto the front pages of our newspapers, we are redressing this. By listening to Rwandan narratives and viewing Rwanda through Rwandan images we come a step closer to understanding the scale and scope of the country’s journey.

All are welcome to attend the Commemoration on Friday 21st March, from 18.00 – 19.00, The Chapel, King’s College London, Strand, London WC2R 2LS. Spaces are limited so please register: http://genocidecommemoration.eventbrite.co.uk/

“Rwanda in Photographs: Death Then, Life Now” is presented by the Cultural Institute at King’s.Co-curated by Dr Zoe Norridge, Lecturer in English and Comparative Literature, Department of English and Mark Sealy, Director of Autograph ABP.

The exhibition is open to the public from Friday 21 March – Wednesday 30 April 2014
Inigo Rooms, Somerset House East Wing, Strand Campus. 
Open daily, 12.00 – 18.00 (until 20.00 on Thursdays). 
Free Admission.