Sunday, July 25, 2010

ICRC 'Missing Lives' Exhibition

The International Red Cross 'Missing Lives' exhibition catches you off-guard as you wander guilelessly along the South Bank. Installed on a jutting platform opposite Gabriel's Wharf, it appears to be a glossy display of high definition photography - glamorous eye candy, no doubt!

On closer inspection, however, the exhibition has a sombre and moving story to tell. 'Missing Lives' highlights 15 individual accounts taken from thousands describing pain and loss from the Balkans wars, which scarred Yugoslavia in the 1990s and cost the lives of about 140,000 people.

Of those 140,000, a quarter of simply vanished and were reported missing by their families. Even today, almost 15,000 people remain unaccounted for. Photography by Nick Danziger and text by Rory MacLean illustrate the anguish suffered by the families of the murdered and missing.

Some stories are shocking, others just sad. Piecing them together produces a terrifying vision of a world where neighbour turned on neighbour and close-knit communities were ravaged by mass executions, often willingly carried out by citizens upon their acquaintances.

Unexpectedly and suddenly moving, this restrained yet harrowing exhibition may take the spring from your step as you trot alongside the river, but don't avert your eyes: it is profound, thought-provoking and - as pressure increases on the West Balkans governments to provide answers to affected families - timely.

'Missing Lives', Gabriel's Wharf, 7 July to 26 July.

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