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Visa pour l’image 2012: Bénédicte Kurzen


Nigeria, a nation lost to the gods 
Bénédicte Kurzen / Pulitzer Center

Every day northern Nigeria descends into ever greater chaos and civil war, despite the state of emergency. Since 2009, Boko Haram, a Salafist sect, has been carrying out a series of murderous attacks targeting security services, police and armed forces. These latest events have come after more than ten years of sectarian violence which has destabilized federal Nigeria, the country with the largest population in Africa and colossal oil reserves. The report is an endeavor to explore the different aspects of these disturbances, driven on by power struggles and the total collapse of any form of social contract.

Bénédicte Kurzen 
Kurzen is a 32 French freelance photographer based in Johannesburg, South Africa. She holds a master’s degree with Excellence in Contemporary History from the Sorbonne, Paris. She studied Semiology for one year, and wrote her memoire about the “myth of the war photographer”. In 2003, she moved to Israel and took up photography, covering hard news in the Gaza Strip, later working in Iraq, and Lebanon. 

Her work has appeared in the New Yorker, Harpers, TIME, the New York Times, TIME, Newsweek, Paris Match and Stern among others. Encouraged by Stanley Greene to contribute to a “Violence Against Women” project, Bénédicte changed from news to documentary photography, covering the situation of widows in the Gaza Strip, which was screened in Visa pour l’image, 2005. The same year, with five others, she founded EVE Photographers, producing work focusing on women, which as been broadly exhibited from Japan to Ukraine, from Spain to the Cambodia. She moved to South Africa traveling across Africa from there, since then. 

She was awarded Second Place at the BOP in 2009 for her portrait story of Congolese warlord General Nkunda. She was part of the Joop Swart Masterclass 2009. In 2011, her work on Tahrir Square was exhibited in Bayeux at the War correspondant festival. She received a grant from the Pulitzer Center, which allowed her to produce her project in Nigeria, and at the moment she is busy working on a collective book dedicated to Lagos, and funded by the African Artist Foundation. In 2012, she was in residence for two months in the South of France teaching photography to children, within a government program called “ Writing with light”.

Nigeria, a nation lost to the gods – Bénédicte Kurzen 
From september1st to september 21st 
Couvent des Minimes 
Rue François Rabelais 
66000 Perpignan – France

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