Tillim, Guy


South African, b. 1962; lives and works in Cape Town, South Africa


Trained as a photojournalist, Guy Tillim has covered conflicts throughout postcolonial Africa since 1986. In 2002, he photographed the civil war in Beni, in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo, which has claimed an estimated 3.8 million lives. There, he encountered the Mai Mai militias, comprised of young boys and adolescents who were training to fight in the rebel army—the so-called Armée Populaire du Congo (APC)—against the Congolese government. In Tillim’s series of portraits, defiant child soldiers camouflage themselves in dried leaves and vines. They carry logs instead of guns, thought to possess a magical immunity to real bullets. Through precise repetition in pose and lighting, Tillim depicts the distinctive features of each boy. Together the soldiers evince a shared identity, at once archetypal and personal, even as the intrigue and the pain in each subject becomes a symbol of the larger political forces in which the militia was engaged.

Artworks by Tillim, Guy

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