Gilles Peress Untitled 1994

  • Not on view

Since 1971, French photographer and photojournalist Gilles Peress has been traveling the world to document conflicts, revolutions, wars, and the people swept up within these events. For him, speaking and writing are limiting modes of expression, while photography is a much freer and more open form of language. Photography “allowed me to deal with reality without using words,” he has said. Driving Peress, and underlining his unflinching images, is a fundamental question about the nature of humankind: Are we good or evil?

In 1994, Peress traveled to Rwanda, when that country was ravaged by the genocidal conflict in which dominant Hutu forces murdered hundreds of thousands of ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus. His photographs—of weapons, abandoned belongings, the survivors, and the dead—were published in a searing book titled, The Silence, in reference to (and condemnation of) the silence of the Western nations who had the power to halt this genocide. Among these images is Untitled, a portrait of an injured boy in a hospital near a concentration camp. With watery eyes, the boy gazes directly into the camera’s lens and, by extension, at the viewer. “A photograph is an open text in which half of the message, or half of the text, is in you and how you read it,” Peress has said.

Gelatin silver print
36 × 55" (91.4 × 139.7 cm)
Gift of Susan and Peter MacGill
Object number
© 2024 Gilles Peress

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