back 10 of 11 next
…the only hint of violence in this photograph is the woman's bandaged hand.

The woman in this photo raises her pitcher, and the sky appears to flow in. It is Rwanda in 1994, and a conflict between ethnic groups there will cost hundreds of thousands of lives. But the only hint of violence in this photograph is the woman’s bandaged hand. Photographer Gilles Peress exploits the fact that photographs can often hide more than they show. We are so far removed from Rwanda that we probably wouldn’t even identify this woman with that area of Africa. Perhaps that is part of his message.

Peress used the sky as a field of light in the photograph, a background for the woman’s face. In fact, the light comes from somewhere behind the woman to create a glowing profile. The diagonal shape in the upper left corner (echoing the shape of her head scarf), the horizontal string of buildings at her shoulders, and the vertical pole in front of her face complete a frame around her head.


back 10 of 11 next
Minneapolis Institute of Arts