Seventeen years ago, the South African photographer Gideon Mendel, then thirty-seven, received the W. Eugene Smith Grant in Humanistic Photography for his work on H.I.V. and AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa. Tomorrow night is the thirty-fourth annual Smith Grant ceremony, at which Mendel will reflect on his body of work and present the new short film “A Broken Landscape,” an eloquent synthesis of his impressive career. (Note: the film contains some graphic images.)
During the 1994 genocide, Rwandan women were subjected to massive sexual violence, perpetrated by members of the infamous Hutu militia groups known as the Interahamwe. Among the survivors, those who are most isolated are the women who have borne children as a result of being raped. Their families have rejected both them and their children, compounding their already unimaginable emotional distress.
My approach for making these images is actually quite different from how
I normally go about making images. In other projects, and most of my daily
work, I attempt to put as much of myself as possible into the photographs to
the point that every image is almost a self-portrait in a way. I shoot very
objectively and work to create an intimate connection with my subjects,
whether it's a close friend, complete stranger, or even a place or object