Eberhard Riedel

About Cameras without Borders - Photography for Healing and Peace

Prologue. The date is April 27, 2007. Sounds of jubilation fill the air as eight young Basua Pygmy run off to explore their world through the lens of a camera. Deep in the Ituri Rain Forest in Uganda, a few miles from the border to the Democratic Republic of Congo, photographers Craig Richards and Eberhard Riedel just finished instructing these youngsters in the basic operations of digital point-and-shoot cameras, helped by their translator and local guide. The children belong to a group of Basua Pygmy who had fled the war in the Congo, lost two thirds of their people in the process, and settled in their new camp in Uganda just two months prior. When the Basua children return from their photographic explorations, we are moved by the creativity apparent in their photographs.

Fieldwork. Eberhard Riedel photographs in communities in Africa that are suffering from traumatic consequences of war, violence and marginalization. Currently he focuses on issues in eastern Congo, Uganda, Kenya and South Sudan. There is much pain in the hearts of these people. Riedel resonates with their lives because of his own childhood experiences in postwar Germany. He approaches his fieldwork with the motto, "learning from each other." Blending his expertise as a psychotherapist with his artistic sensibility as a photographer Riedel is better able to understand and gain the trust of the people he photographs. In his own photography he visually translates emotional experiences into portraiture in order to connect with and communicate the multiple psychosocial issues that plague these African countries. In photographic workshops Riedel inspires child and adult survivors of trauma - by now well over 500 individuals - to become curious about themselves and their environment. He loans participants cameras, teaches them some photography basics and invites them to explore their lives and create photographic images and visual narratives. This process follows an old tradition of building bridges to creative layers of the psyche through which people rediscover their voice.

Mission. Cameras without Borders - Photography for Healing and Peace fosters an attitude of relatedness and curiosity in a world that is plagued by increasingly difficult social problems associated with extreme fundamentalism and tribalism. At the heart of Photography for Healing and Peace lies the power to transform and plant seeds for new beginnings. When we freely dream and imagine we develop capacities that allow us to forge a better world for our communities and ourselves. We certainly are less prone to indoctrination and abuse.

Vision. Eberhard Riedel, born in Germany when World War II had just begun, struggled with the human consequences of racism and genocide since childhood. He envisions photography as communication to heal conflict and promote mutuality and human well-being in its many forms. As the African writer Wole Soyinka observed, art nourishes the seeds of reconciliation and social and personal healing.

Contact Information:
Electronic mail: ERPhoto@cameraswithoutborders.org
Web sites: www.eberhardriedel.com and www.cameraswithoutborders.org