Rwanda revisualized: Genocide, Photography, and the Era of the withness

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Alternatives35(2010),113136RwandaRevisualized:Genocide,Photography,andtheEraoftheWitnessFrankMöller*Engagingwiththeliteratureonvisualrepresentationsofhumansuffering,beingawitness,andtrauma,thisarticlediscussesvisualrepresentationsofthe1994genocideinRwanda,andespeciallytheartphotographyofAlfredoJaar,RobertLyons,andJonathanTorgovnikoftheaftermathofthegenocide.Itexplorestheconditionsinwhichphotographycansucceedindisruptingstereotypicalpoliticalinterpretationsofthekillings.Artphotography,itisargued,mayhelptransformtheviewersfrombeingconsumingspectatorsintobeingparticipantwitnesseswhoself-criticallyreflectupontheirownsubjectpositionsinrelationtotheconditionsdepictedintheimage.Bydiscussingphotographyoftheaftermathofthegenocide,thearticleacknowledgestheunrepresentabilityofgenocide;byfocusingonvisualrepresentations,itreflectstheextenttowhichpoliticalspaceisnowadaysconstitutedbymeansofimages;byconcentratingonRwanda,itcontributestothenecessaryprocessofexaminationandself-examinationinconnectionwiththekillings.KEYWORDS:Rwanda,genocide,aftermath,photography,witnessingThememoryofwar,however,likeallmemory,ismostlylocal.SusanSontag1Thisarticlecontributestotheliteratureonthe1994TutsigenocideinRwandabydiscussingthreephotographyprojectsontheaftermathofthekillings.Engagingwiththeliteratureonvisualrepresentationsofhumansuffering,beingawitness,andtrauma,thearticleanalyzestheartphotographyofAlfredoJaar,RobertLyons,andJonathanTorgovnik*TamperePeaceResearchInstitute,UniversityofTampere,Finland.E-mail:frank.moller@uta.fi113
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