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28 March - 17 May 2014


The genocide in Rwanda took place amid general indifference. On April 6, 1994, President Juvénal Habyarimana was assassinated. The authorities immediately put into practice their extermination plan, which sought to murder all opponents of their regime as well as the totality of Tutsis in Rwanda (and the remaining political authority immediately put into effect an extermination plan designed to eliminate both opposition to the political regime in power and all the Tutsis in Rwanda). In less than 100 days, the military, militias, and civilians murdered between 800,000 to a million people. Then, the genocidaires forced 2.5 million Hutus—a great many of whom had participated in the murders to flee to the borders.

Former photo reporter, Alexis Cordesse went to Rwanda for the first time in 1996, two years after the genocide. On the hills, he questioned the survivors, noted the signs of emptiness and absence, and the traumatic sequels of the aftermath. Confronting the unimaginable, he realized that he had to rethink his approach by questioning the failure of images to inform. From then on, he returned regularly to Rwanda and dedicated several bodies of work to the evocation of these events. His approach connects photographs, archival documents, and witness accounts. Alexis Cordesse’s way of working is far from a moralizing discourse on mass crime, the victims’ suffering and the inhumanity of the executioner. Rather it is an inquiry on the power of images to speak out uniquely and by themselves about the essence of what happened. His approach also invites the viewer to reflect on the crime rather than to contemplate the image.

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