Oct 18th, 2019, 02:30 PM

Unsung Heroes

By Lauren Nanes
Unsung Heroes
Unsung Heroes break the silence. Image credit: Denis Rouvre.
Breaking the Silence on Female Victims of Violence

Unsung Heroes, a new photography exhibition at the Galerie Joseph Froissart location, is gracefully bringing attention to a topic that has been silenced for years. Sixty portraits and testimonies of women dispersed among the white walls of three floors center on the faces and voices of women around the world who have suffered through violence at the hands of their people and country. For eight months photographer Denis Rouvre, in a joint collaboration with Médecins du Monde, collected the intimate and vulnerable stories of women across nine of the countries where Médecins du Monde conducts its humanitarian programs.  With powerful portraits and testimony, the exhibition aims to not only expose injustices suffered by these women, but to also reveal their admiral acts of resistance, strength, and survival.

Female Syrian Refugee. Image Credit: Denis Rouvre.


"Unsung Heroes is where the messages of hope of millions of women are echoed and where we hear, if we want to listen, the murmur of change..." - Médecins du Monde.

The first wall of the exhibition, absent of any picture, contained a release statement from Médecins du Monde addressing the urgency of listening. Each woman featured in the gallery has silently suffered through violence, hate, and intolerance and is now taking back their voice. Exposure is only half the battle. To listen to these women is to bring attention to stories both mundane and foreign - stories that can hopefully help us recognize what is missing and what needs to be fixed. The exhibition is a call for recognition. Violence continues when it is ignored.

"I suffer from what all women suffer. It is women who suffer the most right now." - JAMILA, Syria. Image Credit: Denis Rouvre.


Denis Rouvre is extremely purposeful and expressive with his portraiture, each photograph adding weight to the woman's story. White walls and light are a stark contrast against the black-framed female portraits. Every wall hints at different groupings of violence that women have endured. Intolerance, brutality, hate, economic, and political violence are distinguished by wall groupings and then magnificently overlapped by testimony. 

"In the eyes of a man, the woman is fragile, she is nothing, she does nothing." - AMINA, 30 years old, Algeria. Image Credit: Denis Rouvre.

Portraits of women from Algeria, Syria, Palestine, Cameroon, Nepal, Kenya, France, and many more are spread out along the three floors of Galerie Joseph-Froissart. Written testimonies describing discrimination based on sexuality, citizenship, religion, and gender compliment each portrait. Within each section of the exhibition, a woman's voice can be heard from a speaker discussing her experiences with violence and injustice. Each face, each voice has a unique story - intimate and personal in its experience, yet linked by female struggle.

"Where I come from, homosexuality is punishable by imprisonment." - DIANA, 28, Kenya. Image Credit: Denis Rouvre.

Through testimony and portraiture "Unsung Heroes" is able to raise the voices of women who have been silenced. The exhibition is both fragile and extremely powerful in its delivery - attaching a voice to the different faces of struggle and adversity. More than being informative, "Unsung Heroes" is honest - demanding the public that it is finally time to listen.

Visit and hear for yourself; "Unsung Heroes" Galerie Joseph - Froissart location. 7 Rue Froissart, 75003, Paris, France. October 9 to November 2. Monday through Sunday, 11am to 7pm.