“Visual documentation hasn’t been part of our culture.”
In a bid to increase the number of art spaces in Rwanda and to encourage upcoming artists, Jacques Nkinzingabo has established Rwanda’s first photography centre.
The centre is located in Kacyiru, a Kigali suburb, in a private residential space with a serene atmosphere ideal for creatives.
The idea of establishing a photography centre started in 2014. “I’ve always wanted to have a space for people to come and learn photography for free,” Nkinzingabo, 23, said.
“Visual documentation hasn’t been part of our culture, yet other countries treasure it. It defines the history and heritage of any society,” he added.
In addition to a main exhibition area, a corridor will also be used for exhibiting works. The centre has a photo studio equipped with umbrella lights, backdrop support stands, soft box lights and reflectors among other equipment. The equipment was donated by a friend.
“This isn’t a personal space dedicated to my works,” Nkinzingabo said. “I’m here to support rising and established photographers who need a platform.”
The centre has already attracted local photographers like Alice Kayibanda, Jean Luc Habimana, Salo Galos, Cyril Ndegeya, Timothy Kisambira and George Baryamwisaki, as well as Uganda’s Kibuuka and Papa Shaban.
The Kigali Centre of Photography’s services include arranging workshops and exhibitions, and offering residencies to visiting international photographers and scholars to facilitate training.
Future plans include a smart digital backup system for Rwandan photography.
Nkinzingabo says public institutions haven’t done enough in to promote local artists. “It’s more than just setting up art spaces. They need to support the artists too. If the sector is boosted, local artists will generate more revenue.”
Nkinzingabo, who refers to himself as a visual storyteller, has created a name for himself as a photographer with a thirst for adventure.
He has been to Burundi, Kenya, Uganda and DRC, capturing history, culture, lifestyles and social life.