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Child Soldiers: Forced to be Cruel

PowerHouse Arena
37 Main Street, Brooklyn, 718-666-3049
February 12 - March 8, 2009
Reception: Thursday, February 12, 7 - 9 PM
Web Site

Curated by Leora Kahn and Peter Mantello

Up to half a million children are engaged in more than 85 conflicts worldwide. As armed conflict proliferates, increasing numbers of children are exposed to the brutalities of war. Boys and girls around the world are recruited to be child soldiers by armed forces and militant groups, either forcibly or voluntarily. Some are tricked into service by manipulative recruiters, others join in order to escape poverty or discrimination, while still others are outright abducted at school, on the streets, and at home. Aside from participating in combat, many are used for sexual purposes, made to lay and clear land mines, or employed as spies, messengers, porters, or servants. Kids have become the ultimate weapons of twenty-first-century war.

This exhibition will feature the work of prominent photographers: Dominic Sansoni, Olivier Pin Fat (Agence VU), Alvaro Ybarra Zavala (Agence VU), Peter Mantello, Tomas van Houtryve (PANOS), Tiane Doan na Champassak (Agence VU), Ami Vitale, Bob Koenig, Guy Tillim, Colin Finlay, Jan Grarup (Noor Images), Francesco Zizola (Noor Images), Q. Sakamaki, Zed Nelson (Panos), Francesco Cito (Panos), Martin Adler (Panos), Tim A Hetherington, Richard Butler, Sven Torfinn, Giacomo Pirozzi (Panos), Roger Lemoyne, Rhodri Jones(Panos), Cedric Gerbehaye, Riccardo Gangale.

Child Soldiers focuses on individual stories about these children, captured by photographers and writers from across the globe. The book explores the children’s time as combatants, as well as their demobilization and rehabilitation. Included are Tim Hetherington’s photographs from Liberia; Roger Lemoyne and Cedric Gerbehaye’s work from the Congo; Ami Vitale’s series on child Maoist recruits in Nepal; and other work from Burma, Colombia, the Central African Republic, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, and Palestine.

Leora Kahn is the founder of Proof: Media for Social Justice, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to create awareness of the issues faced by populations in post-conflict societies and to encourage social change through the use of photography and words. Kahn has served as the director of photography at Workman Publishing and Corbis, and is currently at work on global projects with Amnesty International, Participant Films, and the Karuana Center for Peacebuilding. She recently edited the Lucie Award-winning Darfur: 20 Years of War and Genocide in Sudan (powerHouse Books, 2007) in collaboration with Amnesty, and curated an accompanying exhibit that will tour the US this year with the Holocaust Museum Houston. Kahn is currently working on an exhibition in Rwanda with Aegis Trust about Hutu rescuers during the genocide.

Child Soldiers features the work of prominent photographers, who have covered the use of children in combat around the world. Contributing writers include Jo Becker, Children’s Rights Advocacy Director for Human Rights Watch, Jimmie Briggs, journalist and author of Innocents Lost: When Child Soldiers Go to War (Basic Books, 2005), Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, International Criminal Court Prosecutor, Emmanuel Jal, a Sudanese musician and former child soldier, and Michael Wessels, a professor of psychology at Columbia University.
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