ALFREDO JAAR

The Rwanda Project

Genocide: acts committed with intent to destroy in whole or in part a national, ethnic, racial or religious group.

If genocide is an actual possibility of the future, then no people on earth can feel reasonably sure of its continued existence without the help and protection of international law.
--Hannah Arendt


On April 6, 1994, the plane carrying the Rwandan President, Juvenal Habyarimana, was shot down above Kigali. What ensued in the next ten weeks was a genocide. At least one million people were killed. Two million others sought refuge in Zaire, Burundi, Tanzania and Uganda. About two million more were displaced within Rwanda.

The world turned a blind eye to the systematic killings. In fact, the first U.N. reaction to the massacres was to pass Resolution 912 on April 21, reducing the U.N. forces from 2,500 to 270. When French and Belgian paratroopers were sent in, it was only to carry out the smooth evacuation of all foreigners.

The international community did not intervene early on because of European and American unwillingness to make a substantial commitment in an area of no strategic interest.

The media's attention was finally grabbed by the mass exodus into refugee camps. Without talking about genocide, Washington and the world promised to react to the humanitarian disaster in the camps. Cholera and dysentery claimed tens of thousands, but this number was a fraction of the one million victims of the genocide.

Alfredo Jaar visited Rwanda, Zaire, and Uganda in the summer of 1994. Since then, he has created numerous works as a result of that trip.

Images have an advanced religion. They bury history.
--Vicenc Altaio

Waiting, 2011


September 11, 1973, 1974


Walking I, 2002, 2002


Walking II, 2003, 2003


Six Seconds (detail), installation view, 2000