Revisiting Rwanda

© 2010 Alex Garcia

Last week was the anniversary of the start of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, in which at least 800,000 people were killed in about 100 days. In media terms, it’s an old story, having been replaced by many other horrific events. But especially during this time of year, it’s in my thoughts. I was there a few years ago on my own, documenting the efforts of a church from Southern California to help the country recover. I think many a photojournalist, and aspiring ones, dream of being the go-to person for dramatic news events around the world. For me, Rwanda has been the only place I’ve been to of any significant disaster. The unfortunate byproduct of this is that my journalist mind is more inclined to show the negative stuff from a place where conflict has occurred, even when the conflict is over and people are trying to move on. I know other photographers and observers know what I’m talking about. It’s understandable to some degree. The photos are true and relevant. They also carry more dramatic power that make people stop and think about an issue not over. If you’ve spent much time, effort and money to get somewhere, would you show photos of AIDS patients from a hospital, or people outside basket-weaving? But in the process, there is a side that often gets neglected – the positive, hopeful side on which any progress will be based.  For that reason, given the option to show pictures from Rwanda for this post, I’m using a few diptychs that show things both from a downbeat and upbeat point of view. Diptychs are an approach that my colleague Scott Strazzante has helped popularize, so I know one more photographer adapting it won’t surprise him any…

Alex Garcia

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