Good photographs depend on what is pictured, but it is equally
important is how the subject portrayed. Because of the way Gilles
Peress portrayed his subject in this photograph, a human river of refugees
takes on a quiet, timeless beauty. The real situation is certainly not
beautiful. It is Rwanda in 1994, where a bitter war between the Hutu and
Tutsi ethnic groups leaves hundreds of thousands dead and just as many
exiled and homeless.
The dusky atmosphere and the repeated shapes of the figures gently curving
off into infinity contribute to the feeling of quiet. The figure perched
in the tree overlooking the scene surveys the landscape, and becomes an
extension of the tree, human and tree limbs entwined together.