Internationally Known Photojournalists Focus on Darfur Tragedy in New Exhibit at Holocaust Museum Houston

HOUSTON, TX (Feb. 26, 2008) As World War II ended, the world beat its collective chest defiantly and proclaimed it would “never forget” the genocide of the Holocaust so that it could “never again” be repeated. The world – as history has proven – has a short memory. The Holocaust was not the world’s first genocide and it has not been the last.

Today, in the Darfur region of western Sudan, the world faces human suffering on a scale difficult to imagine. Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed or forcibly displaced from their homes.

Eight photographers who have witnessed the atrocities there first-hand have taken unforgettable photographs that serve as a testimony to the injustices occurring daily in Darfur. Their work forms the backdrop of a new world-premiere exhibit opening this March at Holocaust Museum Houston.

The exhibit "Darfur: Photojournalists Respond" will feature 30 photographs from those eight photographers, all of whom participated in the book "Darfur: Twenty Years of War and Genocide in Sudan," created in partnership with Proof: Media for Social Justice, Amnesty International and Holocaust Museum Houston and edited by Leora Kahn.

Kahn describes the works as "the reality of genocide."

"These photographs are a reminder of life’s beauty and preciousness, and they dare viewers to answer the question, 'How long can we go on saying never again?" she said.

The exhibit officially opens Friday, March 14, 2008 and will remain on view through August 17, 2008 in the Central Gallery at the Museum’s Morgan Family Center, 5401 Caroline St., in Houston’s Museum District.

The general public is invited to a free preview reception and panel discussion on Thursday, March 13, from 6 to 8 p.m.

Speaking at the reception will be Kahn, herself a widely known New York City photography editor, and photographer Colin Finlay, who has documented with compassion and dignity the human condition as it has unfolded throughout the world for the last 17 years. He has covered war, conflict, genocide, famine, environmental issues, religious pilgrimage and disappearing traditions and cultures, as well as made numerous documentaries for television.

He has circled the world 27 times in search of that one image that will make a difference in the lives of the people he photographs. He is a five-time winner of the Picture of the Year Award.

Kahn is Finlay’s co-founder of Proof: Media for Social Justice, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to create awareness of the issues faced by populations in post-conflict societies and to encourage social change through the use of photography and education. She has been the director of photography at Workman Publishing and Corbis and is currently working on global projects with Amnesty, Participant Films and United Nations.

Joining Kahn and Finlay will be Adam Sterling, director of the Sudan Investment Task Force, a project of the Genocide Intervention Network, for an update on the tragedy still unfolding in that country.

The exhibit at Holocaust Museum Houston marks the start of a national tour of the photographic exhibition.

The exhibit covers three periods in the Sudan crisis, including images shot in 1988, when an estimated 250,000 Sudanese died of starvation; images from 1992 and 1995 that capture the atrocities of a civil war, when hundreds of thousands fled their homes to other destinations in Sudan or left the country altogether; and images from 2005 and more recently, bringing to light the severity of the humanitarian crisis underway, with the Sudanese government and the "Janjaweed" militias committing systematic violence on the people of Darfur.

Other photographers whose work will appear in the exhibit include Lyndsey Addario, Pep Bonnet, Ron Haviv, Olivier Jobard, Kadir van Lohuizen, Chris Steele Perkins and Sven Torfinn.

Addario has focused on human rights issues ranging from the effects of the Castro regime in Cuba to life under the Taliban in Afghanistan to the war in Iraq. She has documented the human psychological toll of the U.S. occupation in Iraq, while also shooting news features on the crisis in Darfur, women in Saudi Arabia, the lifting of sanctions in Libya and the democratic movement in Lebanon.

Spanish-born photographer Bonet makes poignant photo essays that have shed light on some of the most heartbreaking examples of human atrocities in recent history, including Darfur. During the last four years, his work has focused on Africa and the pursuit of several long-term projects, Faith in Chaos about postwar Sierra Leone, and Positiv+ documenting the issues of H.I.V./A.I.D.S. in Sub-Saharan Africa. He is currently working on a photographic project in Somalia. He has photographed most of Africa on assignment for Medecins Sans Frontieres.

Haviv has covered the fall of the Berlin Wall, the release of Nelson Mandela, cocaine wars in Columbia, the Gulf War, the flight of the Kurds from Iraq, conflicts in Russia, refugees in Rwanda, and political upheaval in Haiti. He was one of the first photojournalists to cover the civil war in Yugoslavia. Most recently, he covered the conflict in Sudan.

In April 2004, Jobard was the only Western photographer to go into Darfur as well as the first photographer to penetrate into Fallujah, the Iraqi town seized by American forces, spending two weeks with Iraq rebels. Later that same year, Olivier accompanied a group of migrants on their precarious journeys from Layoune, Morocco to the Spanish Canary Islands.

Van Lohuizen covered the Palestinian Intifada. In the years after, he worked in many conflict areas in Africa, such as Angola, Sierra Leone, Mozambique, Liberia and DR Congo. From 1990 to 1994 he covered the transition in South Africa from apartheid to democracy. After the collapse of the Soviet Union he covered social issues in different corners of the former empire. He also went to North Korea and Mongolia. Recently, van Lohuizen covered the conflict in Darfur and in Lebanon.

Steele-Perkins began his first foreign work in 1973 in Bangladesh, followed by work for relief organizations as well as travel assignments. Steele-Perkins joined Magnum and soon began working extensively in the Third World. 

Torfinn is based in Nairobi, Kenya, working on assignments for Dutch and international media and N.G.O.s. 

The exhibit is sponsored locally by Gainer, Donnelly & Desroches, LLP; Bridgeway Foundation; Sterling Family Foundation; The Simmons Foundation; The Wortham Foundation; Nightingale Code Foundation; Paula Sperber Siegel; Mimi and Gary Wasserberg; and Mixed Emotions Fine Art; with special thanks to Continental Airlines, official airline of Holocaust Museum Houston.

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 is free and open to the public and 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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