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Rwanda: Images of the Disaster From the Time of News Coverage to the Time of Memory
Editorial Director: Laurence Bertrand Dorléac
Editorial Staff: Carole Gautier and Cécile Pichon-Bonin
Translator: David Ames Curtis
The staging of photographs is a practice that has always existed. As early as the American Civil War, Alexander Gardner and Timothy O’Sullivan, it is known, certainly moved corpses around in order to render their compositions more “striking,” just as they also reported their models to be “Yankee” or “Confederate” so as to suit the needs of the message they wished to transmit.
Nathan Rera offers us the conclusions of his dissertation, which will soon become a book from Presses du Réel about some much more recent events. He recalls the facts and interprets them. The genocide of the Tutsis in Rwanda generated a lot of photographs, starting from the early days of the massacres. Yet those were not the ones that told of the breadth of the catastrophe or of the most widespread ways in which it occurred. The many other ones, taken in accordance with the hurried ways in which the mass media work, were instrumentalized for propaganda purposes. Such photographs served as vehicles for misinterpretations that turned one away from the images.