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October 27, 2012 / M.E.

Photography Exhibit. Washington. D.C.

During our visit to D.C., a special photography exhibit by Sammy Baloji was being shown at the Natural History Museum. Baloji’s montages were stunning. In his montages, Baloji placed archival images of former mine workers and European administrators over photos taken of the cooper mines today. The images tell a story of a golden era that has long since diminished due to mismanagement by corrupt governments.

I found Baloji’s work to be compelling. To see the faces of the Congolese who worked in the mines in the past and then  to see the images of the mines today reinforces the idea that at one time these mines held promise of an economic future but now they are a tangible reminder of how greed can take away something that provides hope for many. Baloji’s art addresses long standing social issues that remain even today.

The photos reminded me of a passage from Alan Paton’s Cry The Beloved Country.

“But to tell the truth, they were afraid of him and his wife and Msimangu and the young demonstrator. And what was there evil in their desires, in their hunger? That men should walk upright in the land where they were born, and be free to use the fruits of the earth, what was there evil in it? Yet ment were afraid with a fear that was deep, deep in their heart, a fear so deep that they hid their kindness, or brought it out with fierceness and anger, and hid it behind fierce and frowning eyes. They were afraid because they were so few. And such fear could not be cast out, but by love.” – Alan Paton. Cry, The Beloved Country

Sometimes the problem with progress is that while some progress, others are held back.

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