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Photographer: Madeline Cottingham
Exhibit Title: Peer
Location: United States
On April 14, 2014, Boko Haram kidnapped 276 schoolgirls, between the ages of 16 and 18, from the town of Chibok. The Nigerian government has so far proven powerless in their pursuit of the militant organization that now controls most of northeastern Nigeria. None of the girls have been rescued and only 57 have escaped, returning with stories of rape, forced marriage, and abuse. The story of the Chibok girls continues to be shrouded in mystery.
Peer is an effort to re-contextualize this horrific event that remains inaccessible to much of the world. Once completed, the work will consist of 219 portraits of American girls (the same number of Chibok girls still missing) between the ages of 16 and 18. The portraits are taken in the girl’s bedroom where she is asked to write a message to her Nigerian contemporary. The name of a kidnapped Nigerian girl is paired with each portrait. Like their Nigerian peers, the American girls are approaching a pivotal moment in their lives, as they prepare for college, careers, and adulthood.
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