The College of Charleston‘s Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art presents a photographic exhibition that pairs Jonathan Torgovnik‘s Intended Consequences: Rwandan Children Born of Rape and Heather McClintock‘s The Innocents: Casualties of the Civil War in Northern Uganda. Torgovnik and McClintock’s respective photographic series address specific African humanitarian crises through capturing a selection of survivors in photographic portrait.
Jonathan Torgovnik’s series Intended Consequences: Rwandan Children Born of Rape addresses the aftermath of the humanitarian crisis in which more than 100,000 women were sexually assaulted by the Hutu militia during the 1994 Rwandan genocide that saw the massacre of over 800,000 Tutsis. All of the photographic portraits on display feature a survivor with her children. Torgovnik chose to pair each photograph with a text panel that relates each woman’s statements about her personal journey. The highly intimate photographs present resilient women coping with raising children conceived by rape, the possibility of HIV infection and with the stigma they face within their communities. A video featuring interviews with these women accompanies the photographs.
Heather McClintock’s The Innocents: Casualties of the Civil War in Northern Uganda presents the physical impact of Uganda’s conflict from a personal perspective. Since the 1980s the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) has rebelled against the Ugandan government, resulting in the death of thousands and the uprooting of millions into displacement camps. Women and children have been acutely affected by the violence; thousands of children have been abducted and enslaved as sex slaves, porters and soldiers. McClintock’s photographic portraits result from the artist’s almost year-long stay in Uganda and her efforts to document the suffering of the Acholi tribe. The portraits are accompanied by text panels largely filled with the artist’s own words. McClintock’s quiet and personal images capture individual Northern Ugandans’ suffering and struggle to survive.
Torgovnik and McClintock have created photographic portraits defined by highly emotive compositions and rich colors. The portraits successfully depict the personal impact of warfare and the artists are to be commended for their efforts to bring attention to humanitarian crises. However, the emphasis upon individual stories of victimization does not do justice to the complexities of the Rwandan genocide or the Civil War in Northern Uganda. The photographs themselves lack pedagogic content, which is instead derived solely from wall text that only roughly outlines the conflicts while also largely focusing on the personal.
Torgovnik received his BFA from the School of Visual Arts in New York. He is a cofounder of Foundation Rwanda and presently serves on the faculty of the International Center of Photography in New York. McClintock received her B.A. from New England College. Both artists’ featured photographic series have been well received. In 2007 Torgovnik was awarded the National Portrait Gallery’s Photographic Portrait Prize for an image from Intended Consequences and took part in leading the Eddie Adams Barnstorm Workshop 2009. McClintock was awarded the Merit of Excellence and Honorable Mention in the 2007 Color Awards Photography Master’s Cup for The Innocents.
For the duration of the exhibition, the Halsey Gallery will serve as a drop-off point for used book donations to Better World Books, which sells these donations to help fund literacy and education initiatives. On 19 February, artist Heather McClintock will be on hand at the Halsey Gallery for an exhibition walk-through in conjunction with a screening of The Rescue of Joseph Kony’s Child Soidiers.
Intended Consequences: Rwandan Children Born of Rape and The Innocents: Casualties of the Civil War in Northern Uganda will be on view at the Halsey through 13 March 2010.