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       Is it photojournalism or is it art?

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.


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Minneapolis Institute of Arts