Tell the World About Us
14 Sept 2018–15 Jan 2019
In 2001, while the civil war in Colombia was still raging, photographer Rune Eraker was granted permission to visit a prison in the capital Bogotá. His objective was to document the conditions under which FARC guerrillas and political prisoners were being held. When the guard turned his back for a moment, Eraker was able to take a photo of a prisoner in solitary confinement. The prisoner thrust his hand through the bars and gave the unknown photographer a crumpled note. It said: “Tell the world about us”.
Seventeen years later, that plea has become an exhibition at the Nobel Peace Center in Oslo.
The appeal from that prisoner in Colombia has gnawed at me for many years,” says Rune Eraker. “I have felt an urgent need to speak up about the people who are rotting in prisons here and there, and who have been forgotten by an entire world.
Eraker has worked on this project full-time for four years, and has travelled across the world to photograph. He has obtained access to strictly guarded prisons in Latin America, Asia, Africa, the USA – and Norway. He has met people who have been forced into exile, like Edward Snowden and the Dalai Lama. He has encountered women in Latin America who have been jailed after miscarriages or abortions, homosexuals forced to live in hiding in Russia and young girls in Nairobi, who have been raped and brutally assaulted. All of those we meet in this exhibition have been robbed of their freedom, at the same time as they are fighting to retain their dignity.
Injustice against people upsets me, whether it’s done in the name of the law or not. It’s something we can’t allow to happen just because it’s out of sight, says Eraker.
In the exhibition “Tell the world about us”, he shows us pictures we don’t want to see and tells the stories we would prefer to forget. Viewers are forced to take a position on what these people have been subjected to. “As a documentary photographer, this is what I can do. Through my pictures, I can show what is going on, then it’s up to the audience to decide what they want to do about it.”
Together with Amnesty International, the Nobel Peace Center offers visitors an opportunity to do something for people in similar situations to those photographed for the exhibition.
Eraker uses an analogue camera and 35 mm film. The exhibition’s almost 100 photographs are in black and white, and are accompanied by texts written by journalist Linda Hove Strand. Sound artist Tine Eide has created the exhibition’s sound effects. Its designers are Runa Klock and Anita Myhrvold .
“Tell the world about us” is being staged 70 years after the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Amnesty International, which has helped with the exhibition, itself received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1977 for its work to promote human rights.
“Tell the world about us” will be officially opened at the Nobel Peace Center on 13 September, and will be open to the public from 14 September until 15 January 2019. It is subsequently due to be shown at Tromsø kunstforening and the Portuguese Center of Photography.