Pete Muller is a US born photojournalist who works mostly in Kenya and West African regions. He is interested in the topics of war and social movements and telling stories through his photography. The first three photographs shown below are from his series on the rape trials in Eastern Congo. The victims are shown with their heads covered to not only keep their identity hidden but also to represent the stigma that gets put on victims of rape and their families in wartime in the Congo.
What I found most compelling and quite disturbing honestly were his photographs of the OFASTS shooting convention in Missouri. This series pictures Americans enjoying a weekend of bringing together their families to play with some of the largest guns and explosives available for recreation. What I find fascinating about these images is that when compared with the rest of Muller’s work, the contrast between American’s relationship with war and the experiences of those in war-torn countries are stark. In America we seem to celebrate violence and guns possibly because we have never experienced war first hand.
A victim of a mass rape campaign in the town of Fizi, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on Sunday, Feb. 20, 2011. Her identity has been concealed for security reasons and because rape carries strong social stigma. She was among nearly fifty women who were raped during a campaign by Congolese soldiers that took place on the night of January 1st 2011. Eleven soldiers from the accused unit are being tried in a military tribunal during which they face charges of crimes against humanity and rape. The trail is the first of its kind in which a ranking officer, Lt. Col. Kebibi Mutware, has faced such significant charges. Mass rape has long been used as a weapon of war in eastern DRC. (AP Photo/Pete Muller)
Ryan, April and Olivia Ireland from Neosho, MO have their portrait taken with automatic weapons at the shoot. “Everyone has a bucket list,” April explains enthusiastically. “He [my husband] wanted to jump out of a plane. I wanted to use the biggest guns to blow up a car.” As a first time shooter, April addressed the adrenaline rush. “When you see your baby the first time as a mother you have that adrenaline,” she says. “That’s what I had when I was shooting.” The Ireland family remains in possession of so-called “exhibit C”, a pistol used in a bank robbery by Ryan’s great uncle.
A young girl peers into the turret of a tank outside the shooting range. In addition to the tank, organizers brought an armored personnel carrier, a half-track troop carrier and a military helicopter. All were operational and available for rides to the tune of 70 dollars per person.