Related themes

Photography as Witness

Photographs of major historic events often help define collective memory or provide indisputable evidence of moments in history.


Gilles Peress
(French, born 1946)

1994. Gelatin silver print, 36 x 55" (91.4 x 139.7 cm)

Gilles Peress is a French photojournalist who has documented events of conflict, revolution, and war all over the world. In 1994, he photographed victims of the Rwandan genocide, which was the result of long-simmering conflicts between the country’s two major ethnic groups, the Tutsi and the Hutu. Untitled (boy with hand to head) is a portrait of an injured boy in what appears to be a makeshift hospital. The boy peers directly into the camera’s lens and, by extension, at the viewer.

Gilles Peress, U.S. News, October 6, 1997

A representation of a particular individual.

A type of journalism that uses photographs to tell a news story.

Who Said What?
Peress’s photographs unflinchingly depict the gruesome aftermath and horrific human suffering. “I don’t care so much anymore about ‘good photography,’” Peress has said, “I am gathering evidence for history.”1


AUDIO: Listen to Gilles Peress speak on a panel for the exhibition Manet and the Execution of Maxmilian at The Museum of Modern Art