Photography and its role in conflict and peace – Research Trail – Introduction to HE

Photography and its role in conflict and peace

Tutsi corpses in an abandoned school, Nyarubuye, Rwanda, 1995 (Sebastião Salgado)

Tutsi corpses in an abandoned school, Nyarubuye, Rwanda, 1995 (Sebastião Salgado)

Migrations – Humanity in transition; Sebastiao Salgado; Aperture April 2000

Sebastiao Salgado:Exodus by Lelia Salgado; Taschen Books 2016

I watched Salt of the Earth – A bio documentary about the photographer Sebastiao Salgado recently, and felt awestruck – by the images, the stories of the individuals, groups and cultures, and also of the lengths that Sebastiao went to to document the plight and suffering of people, around the world.

Although The Salt of The Earth covered a vast proportion of Salgado’s creative work, I cried when watching the plight of those who were fleeing from the genocide in Rwanda in 1994 (Genocide against the Tutsi)

To me, the image above highlights pain, suffering and abandonment. Just looking at the photo, without reading the book or reflecting back to the film, questions come to my mind.

The man in the background appears to be nonchalantly walking past the scene as if this is an everyday occurrence, so I wonder how quickly does it take for a person or a culture to become desensitised to death and murder… or is he walking past afraid, afraid to reach out, fearful of his own safety…or was he involved in the murder of these people?

Where are the police? Why are there no crowds of people horrified by the tragedy? Who will bury the dead? How long have the victims been left after their death? How were they killed? Who killed them? Why were they killed? Who cares?

Who Cares? The question is not a flippant disregard for the plight of these Tutsi, it’s a question for me to consider when making photography. Do I care? What do I care about? Do I want to use photography to create drama for the amusement of those who are in no way connected to the suffering of those I wish to document? Or do I want to use photography as a means of eliciting change in the world?

Can photography be used a means of creating change? Personally – I hope so I will explore this during this project.


Sebastiao Salgado

Sebastio Salgado

Starting Point :- Salt of the Earth – Decia Films – Written by Wim Wenders, Juliano Ribeiro Salgado and David Rosier.

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