During the Rwandan genocide of 1994, members of the Hutu ethnic majority in the east-central African nation of Rwanda murdered an estimated one million people (UN, 2012), mostly of the Tutsi minority, in just 100 days. The genocide spread throughout the country with shocking speed and brutality, as ordinary citizens were incited to take up arms against their neighbours. 25 years after the genocide a unique initiative pairs perpetrator of the genocide with their surviving victims. They raise a calf together, in an effort to reconcile and develop a sustainable future as an integrated community.
Seawright made two trips to Rwanda in 2019 and 2020 – observing reconciliation workshops and meeting perpetrators and survivors of the genocide. His portraits of paired victims and those who killed their families are paired with portraits of the animals they share. The beasts carry the weight of the past and stand as powerful metaphors for post-conflict reconciliation. This research has been exhibited in Ireland and Germany, with selected works exhibited in USA and one photograph reaching the Zurich Portrait Photograph of the year 2020 shortlist. The 72-page photobook publication visually documents a point in time of the reconciliation process manifested through the Rwandan people and the Beasts of Burden and allows for widespread international dissemination.
About the Artist
Paul Seawright is Professor of Photography and Head of Belfast School of Art at the University of Ulster. His photographic work is held in many museum collections including The Irish Museum of Modern Art, Tate, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, International Centre of Photography New York, Arts Councils of Ireland, England and N.Ireland, UK Government Collection and the Museum of Contemporary Art Rome. In 2002 he was commissioned by the Imperial War Museum London to undertake a war art commission in Afghanistan and his photographs of battle-sites and minefields have subsequently been exhibited in North America, Canada, Ireland, Spain, France, Germany, Korea, Japan and China. In 2003 he represented Wales at the Venice Biennale of Art and in 1997 won the Irish Museum of Modern Art/Glen Dimplex Prize. He is represented by the Kerlin Gallery Dublin.
About the Publisher
Strzelecki Books is dedicated to current and contemporary issues in the world of art and cultural production. SB works with renowned artists such as Harun Farocki, Philip Guston, Ernesto Neto, Andreas Schulze and Johannes Wohnseifer, but also supports young and up-and-coming artists. This focus is underlined by a close collaboration with the graphics studio Carmen Strzelecki, as well as long-term collaborations with institutions based in Germany such as Museum Ludwig, Bonner Kunstverein, Filmforum NRW, filmclub 813, Temporary Gallery and also the Internationale Photoszene Köln Biennale and Cine Cologne. The studio works with established institutions and international art scenes as well as with independent art venues and collectives.