March 27, 2019

Rwandan Daughters. Photographs by Olaf Heine, Hatje Cantz, 2019

Rwandan Daughters. Photographs by Olaf Heine
Hatje Cantz, March 2019

Olaf Heine
Olaf Heine
Rwandan Daughters, 2019
Text(s) by Matthias Harder, Olaf Heine, Antje Stahl
English, 208 pp., 70 ills., hardcover, 24.80 x 33.50 cm
ISBN 978-3-7757-4547-5
© Olaf Heine

The twenty-fifth anniversary of the genocide in Rwanda takes place in April 2019. The ensuing trauma is still deep, dividing Rwandan society. Nearly a million people were victims of the genocide in 1994, and around 250,000 women were raped. Today, victims and perpetrators live next door to each other. For Rwandan Daughters, Olaf Heine has created portraits of these women and the children who were products of these crimes.

In his moving images, the photographer Olaf Heine (*1968) has portrayed mothers and daughters, side by side at the crime sites, from a respectful distance, with a straightforward perspective. Olaf Heine’s photos show us the courage, strength, hope, dignity, and optimism radiating from these women, despite the suffering they have endured.

Olaf Heine
© Olaf Heine

Besides a travelogue by the Berlin-based artist, this volume of photographs contains brief statements from the women about how they dealt with their experiences, as well as informative essays by the Neue Zürcher Zeitung editor Antje Stahl, the curator Matthias Harder, and the journalist Andrea Jeska. This photo-book project was produced in collaboration with ora Kinderhilfe, an organization that provides psychological and financial support for the victims in Rwanda. Hatje Cantz will donate a portion of the proceeds from this book to Rwandan mothers and daughters.

“Heine’s series of images brings this forgotten, collective human tragedy to the public eye, and he exemplifies it with very authentic, emotional, and individual portraits. We owe him our thanks for that,” says Matthias Harder, chief curator of the Helmut Newton Foundation, of Olaf Heine’s portraits.

Olaf Heine
© Olaf Heine

Although women in Rwanda have been steadily gaining influence in society ever since the genocide, the rape victims and their children are at the lower end of the social hierarchy. Many young women still manage to rescue their traumatized mothers and help them to free them from the stigma. The courage and optimism of these women in an authoritarian society scarred by trauma are exemplary.

Olaf Heine is a photographer and director. He studied photography and design at the Lette Verein in Berlin, and is mainly known for his portraits of artists, politicians, and athletes, such as Iggy Pop, Bret Easton Ellis, and T.C. Boyle.  


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