“The Rescuers: Picturing Moral Courage” Honors Ordinary People Who Acted Extraordinarily in the Face of Danger
HOUSTON, TX (March 5, 2014) – Jan Karel Wijnbergen of Amsterdam was just 14 years old when he was approached and asked to join the resistance, helping to find shelter for Jewish children during the Holocaust. Enoch Rwanburindi of Rwanda sheltered Tutsis fleeing from the genocide in that country, hiding them and even eventually building them their own home. Mina Jahi of Bosnia hid a man who had escaped execution in Bosnia, saying only, “I knew that the same fate could happen to my children, to my sons, and it was totally normal to help a man in trouble. I didn't separate him from my own children.”
Courtesy, PROOF: Media for Social Justice, Curated by Leora Kahn, Photography by Riccardo Gangale

Their’s are the stories of the new world-premiere exhibit “The Rescuers: Picturing Moral Courage,” opening March 28 and on view through Aug. 31, 2014 at Holocaust Museum Houston’s Morgan Family Center, 5401 Caroline St. in Houston’s Museum District. They are the stories of ordinary people who acted to do extraordinary things to save others, often putting their own lives at risk to do so. More than 30 images, accompanied by text from interviews, tell the stories of farmers, taxi drivers, nuns, mothers and fathers who risked everything to save neighbors, friends and strangers during the Holocaust and the genocides or Rwanda, Bosnia and Cambodia.

“The Rescuers: Picturing Moral Courage” is based on the work of Leora Kahn, who researched and interviewed rescuers from the Holocaust and other genocides. Each person’s image and testimony that visitors encounter in this exceptional photographic exhibition reflect “ordinary” citizens, who, by choosing to rescue the "other," became heroes in a time when their country was committing acts of genocide. They came from different countries and different times, and for many, this is the first time they have told their stories – some risking their lives again in the telling.

Approximately 6 million Jews perished in the Holocaust and at least 200,000 Roma were murdered by the Nazis and their collaborators amongst other targeted groups. In Cambodia, approximately 1.7 million people were murdered by the Pol Pot regime. In Bosnia, at least 200,000 people were murdered and more than 20,000 women and girls raped during the genocide. More than 2 million people were displaced, mostly Bosnian Muslims. In Rwanda, 800,000 people, mostly ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus, were murdered, primarily with machetes.

Kahn is founder and executive director of PROOF: Media for Social Justice. She works on global projects, partnering with organizations such as Amnesty International and the United Nations. Her 2007 book "Darfur: 20 Years of War and Genocide in Sudan" is an award-winning effort, and Holocaust Museum Houston’s exhibition of this work traveled throughout the United States. Kahn's last book, "Child Soldiers," travels with an exhibit she curated in collaboration with the U.N.’s Office on Children and Armed Conflict. Kahn works with the Genocide Studies Program at Yale University, where she conducts research on rescuing behavior. She teaches on topics in human rights and photography.

Kahn worked with four different photographers as she conducted research and curated this exhibition: Riccardo Gangale (Rwanda), Nicolas Axelrod (Cambodia), Paul Lowe (Bosnia) and Sonia Folkmann (Europe/the Holocaust).

Kahn said the exhibit is designed to raise awareness for the need to stand up to the injustices that are still happening around the world and to contribute to the understanding of peace.

“I would hope that by viewing the photographs and learning from these thought-provoking stories, visitors will think about the choices that can be made in their lives every day,” she said. “As Romeo Dallaire once said, ‘The narrative of the ‘ordinary hero’ might sound inaccessible for many. It is reasonable that humans could doubt their own courage in the face of great and grave danger. But discovering this impulse – our humanitarian impulse – is far from implausible.’”

Gangale was born in Rome in 1975. After completing scientific studies and two years of political science, he joined a three-year master course in professional photography in Rome. In 2002, while still studying, Gangale traveled to Ethiopia to work with the program “Food for the Cities.” In the fall of 2002, he worked in South Africa for a project on landless people, as well as working with the World Summit on sustainable development. Since September 2003, he has been working for the Associated Press as a correspondent in the Great Lakes region and has been living in Kigali, Rwanda ever since. The New York Times, Time Magazine, The Times, The Guardian, the Guardian Weekly, Liberation, Der Spiegel, Le Monde, The Washington Post and others have published some of his works.

Axelrod has been based in South East Asia since 2008. An Australian, he moved to Cambodia after living and working in Perth, Western Australia, as a freelance photographer as well as for a Perth-based commercial photographer. Now living in Phnom Penh, he works as a freelance photographer. He has also worked for various non-governmental organizations, local and international magazines and private clients in Cambodia.

Lowe is a senior lecturer in photography at the University of the Arts, London, and an award-winning photographer living and working between Sarajevo and London. His work is represented by Pano Pictures and has appeared in Time, Newsweek, Life, The Sunday Times Magazine, The Observer and The Independent, among others. He has covered breaking news the world over, including the fall of the Berlin wall, Nelson Mandela’s release, the conflict in the former Yugoslavia and the destruction of Grozny. Since 2004, he has been the course leader of the Master’s Programme in Photojournalism and Documentary Photography at the London College of Communication. His book "Bosnians" documented 10 years of the war and post-war situation in Bosnia.

Folkmann was born in Poland in 1975, and at the age of 13, she and her family moved to Dusseldorf, Germany. After she completed a one-year internship at a photographic studio, she fell so deeply in love with the art of photography that she decided to get a professional education in photography. After graduating from art school as the top student, she worked several years with different photographers all over the world. Since 2006, she has been working as a freelance photographer and pursues her own projects, including fine art series, reportage and design books. In 2009 and 2010, she won in collaboration with New Cat Orange Agency the Red Dot Design Award in category Best of the Best.

“The Rescuers: Picturing Moral Courage" is generously underwritten by title sponsors Rhona and Bruce Caress and Art Circle at Holocaust Museum Houston; underwriters Marathon Oil Corporation and Gail and Milton Klein; patrons Cheryl and Stephen Golub, the Hamill Foundation and The Sterling Family Foundation; sponsors Isabel and Danny David, The Enrico and Sandra Di Portanova Foundation and The Nina and Michael Zilkha Endowment Fund; and is presented with special thanks to: Barbara and Michael Gamson, Noylan and Eric Pulaski /Becca Cason Thrash and Dr. John F. Thrash / Regina Rogers, The Lester and Sue Smith Foundation, Becker Family Foundation / Sunni and Gary Markowitz, Velva G. and H. Fred Levine, Max and Rochelle Levit / Milton and Lee Levit Family, The Margolin Family / M&M Lighting, The Morgan Group, Ambassador Arthur Schechter and Joyce Schechter / Barbara and Charles Hurwitz / Cyvia and Melvyn Wolff / Shirley Toomim, Next Door Painting, Blake Feinman, Valspar Corporation and United Airlines, the official airline of Holocaust Museum Houston.

CultureMap and KPRC Local 2 are serving as media sponsors for the exhibition.

Holocaust Museum Houston is dedicated to educating people about the Holocaust, remembering the 6 million Jews and other innocent victims and honoring the survivors' legacy. Using the lessons of the Holocaust and other genocides, the Museum teaches the dangers of hatred, prejudice and apathy.

Holocaust Museum Houston’s Morgan Family Center is located in Houston’s Museum District at 5401 Caroline St., Houston, TX 77004. For more information about the Museum, call 713-942-8000 or visit www.hmh.org
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