Rwanda, USA fusion on show at exhibition

Sunday August 6 2017

One of the portraits featured at the State of

One of the portraits featured at the State of Freedom exhibition. PHOTO | ANDREW KAZIBWE | NATION 

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State of Freedom is a collaborative photography exhibition by Rwanda’s David Murenzi and Amanda Good from America.

The two photographers have been working on this joint project since March. The launch of the exhibition took place on July 21, at Kigali Impact Hub. It’s a Rwanda-America fusion.

State of Hope starts off with an eleven-minute documentary about the lives of those featured. It gives details about where they have been and their ambitions.

Among those featured is Verena Mukandahiro 74, a resident of Gitega, Kigali, who has been a refugee for most of her life in Rwanda, DR Congo, Burundi, Tanzania, and then again in 1995 after the Genocide against the Tutsis.

Even after losing all her children and left with only a few grandchildren to care for, she still remains hopeful.

The documentary highlights Kigali city and there is a theme of hope and ambition. Many of the featured subjects are children who are encouraged to better their lives through education.

Photography is a powerful tool in storytelling and Miss Good aspires to feature more stories.

“There are still many voices that need to be heard,” she said.

The exhibition also incorporates old pictures from Umbilical Cord, which was Murenzi’s first solo exhibition held last year. In it he paid tribute to mothers, and infant life, which he believes offer a smooth transition into the current collection.

The two exhibitions have something in common, in that the focus on people. They capture beauty through expressions and the connection the subjects have with nature and their surrounding.

The purpose of the exhibition is to portray hope, courage, ambition and the pursuit of dreams.

Miss Good, 26, was on her visit to the country. She runs Zumuka, a company dealing in research and documenting services. She said the reality of the country versus what is portrayed in international media was overwhelming.

For Miss Good, the project has been an eye-opener that disproves much of what she knew before landing in Rwanda.

“The country is different from what I thought or read,” she said.

Connecting with subjects

Murenzi first talks with the people he wants to photograph in order to get to know them and their experiences.

“This draws me closer to them and guides me on how to photograph them,” he said.

To Miss Good, it’s one thing to write about something and yet another thing to feel it. This exhibition creates a direct fusion, not only between the photographers and their subjects, but also the audience too.

To attract and cater for different types of audiences, the photographs are priced between $50 and $300. However, the portraits of children are not for sale.

According to Murenzi, the exhibition will be held in Rwanda, then Kenya, Uganda and South Africa.