Living With legacy

Photo exhibition at Dalhousie documents the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Rwanda.

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Photo by Peter Bregg

If you’re going to take in one photography show this year, go see Living With, a series of 50 black-and-white photos that focuses its lens on people living with the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Rwanda. The show is on display until next Tuesday, in the foyer of Dalhousie’s Charles Tupper building (9am-5pm, weekends 10am-4pm).

Haligonian Shelley Robinson spent a year-and-a-half running the Rwanda Initiative, “a project that brings Canadian journalists to Rwanda to teach at the National University there. A lot of places need help with journalism but the difference with Rwanda was that the media had helped fuel the 1994 genocide, talk radio even directed death squads on where to find people. So journalists were implicated, fled or were killed. Basically the profession was decimated and it gives the government the excuse to be extra stingy with press freedom.”

In December 2007, Robinson and the Rwanda Initiative brought seven photojournalists to the country from PhotoSensitive, a well-known collective of Canadian photographers that focus on social documentary of issues such as cancer and homelessness. Partnered with local photographers and journalism students, the seven photographers sought to tell different stories, “including HIV orphans, village life, prostitution, women who were raped and then infected with HIV as a weapon of war during the genocide and circumcision (they say this reduces the risk of transmission by 60% and so many boys and men are only just doing it now),” writes Robinson.

Through the exchange, Rwandan photojournalists received professional training, and by touring the exhibition through Canada, hopefully we’ll gain a little insight too.

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