It was in southern Rwanda, April 1995, when British photographer Paul Lowe made this picture. Thousands of Hutus had crammed into a small area of the Kibeho camp, one day after Tutsi soldiers had massacred thousands of people there.
This week, that photograph reappeared in an unexpected context: the invitation to Kanye West’s fashion show.
In a moment where fashion, art, music and street style collided, West unveiled his new collection, Yeezy Season 3, in conjunction with the launch of his latest album, The Life of Pablo. West collaborated once again with Italian conceptual artist Vanessa Beecroft, best known for her “living paintings.” The two artists, who first began working together in 2008, presented a fashion show within a post-apocalyptic scene inspired by Lowe’s photograph.
In West’s fashion show, male and female models, clothed in the singer’s new line of sportswear, were washed in the haze of smoke machines and spotlights, channeling the gloom and despair of the original photograph. The performance used the power of stillness along with subtle movements that ranged from somber and weary. Toward the end of the show, some models raised their fists in a symbol of defiance, while West acted as master of ceremonies, performing, directing and emceeing for nearly an hour.
Lowe, who made the image used on Kanye’s invitation more than two decades ago, welcomed its reemergence. “When my work gets picked by other cultural forms and used to explore the edges of what social politics are about, it’s quite interesting,” he tells TIME.
The photographer says he didn’t know exactly how his picture would be used beyond the promotional posters and invitations that were distributed ahead of the show, but “if people want to find things in my work that is relevant and useful to contemporary issues and contemporary politics, that’s great,” he says. “And the fact that an image that is 20 years old can still resonate today is indicative that there’s still a lot to do.”
Paul Moakley is the Deputy Director of Photography and Visual Enterprise at TIME. Follow him on Twitter @paulmoakley.
- How the Biden Administration Lost Its Way
- Hanya Yanagihara Is Never Going to Read Your Mean Tweets
- Inside Finland's Plan to End All Waste by 2050
- Chloe Kim Is Ready to Win Olympic Gold Again—On Her Own Terms
- Asia Has Kept COVID-19 at Bay for 2 Years. Omicron Could Change That
- Investors Are Sinking Real Money Into Virtual Real Estate, With No Guarantees
- The Man Putin Fears