"I remember her eyes. The eyes of Gutete Emerita." —Alfredo Jaar Over a five-month period in 1994 more than one million Rwandans, mostly members of the Tutsi minority, were systematically slaughtered while the international community closed its eyes. The Hutu militias who had been armed and trained by the Rwanda military largely carried out the killings. As a consequence of this genocide, millions of Tutsis and Hutus fled to Zaire, Burundi, Tanzania, and Uganda. Many remained in refugee camps, fearing renewed violence upon their return home. One Sunday morning at a church in Ntamara, 400 Tutsi men, women, and children were slaughtered by a Hutu death squad. Gutete Emerita, 30 years old, was attending mass with her family when the massacre began. Killed with machetes in front of her eyes were her husband, Tito Hahinamura, 40, and her two sons: Muhoza, 10, and Matirigari, 7. Somehow Emerita managed to escape with her daughter, Marie Louise Unumaragrunga, 12. They hid in a nearby swamp for three weeks, coming out only at night in search of food. Emerita returned to the church in the woods because she had nowhere else to go. When speaking about her lost family, she gestures to corpses on the ground, rotting in the African sun.

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Alfredo Jaar, Chilean, born 1956
The Eyes of Gutete Emerita
100,000 slides, light table, magnifiers and illuminated wall text
Table: 216 3/4 × 143 × 36 in. (550.5 × 363.2 × 91.4 cm) Text: 180 × 6 in. (457.2 × 15.2 cm)
Credit Line

Museum purchase funded by the Latin Maecenas, the Caroline Wiess Law Foundation, the Bruce T. Halle Family Foundation, Stewart and Gigi Shapiro, Joan Morgenstern, and Alice C. Simkins

Current Location
Not on view
Accession Number
Installation Art

The artist; [Gallery Lelong, New York]; sold to MFAH, 2004.