"All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to stand by and do nothing."

- 18th century parliamentarian, Edmund Burke


In the wake of nearly three decades of brutal civil war, the population of South Sudan lies shattered and strewn across the Central and East African landscape. More than two and half million people were killed and another five million were internally and externally displaced by the conflict largely attributed to the Government of Sudan's bid to ruthlessly consolidate wealth and power in the region. In early 2003 a new exodus flooded the western border region of Darfur in Sudan with fresh bodies and displaced persons fleeing the same regime responsible for the southern tragedy. Despite the fact that the United States has formally labeled this diaspora genocide, the killing continued unchecked, threatening to shed blood on every grain of sand.



As of July of 2011, South Sudan achieved its independence without the international community brokering Darfur's security into the deal. Seceding from the Government of Sudan, South Sudan became the newest nation on the planet and also one of the most infrastructurally decrepit. Power struggles in the South have prevented the region from gaining the stability it sought leaving a very fragile state at the heart of an increasingly tenuous region. In the words of former U.S. President Clinton, "If the horrors of the Holocaust taught us anything, it is the high cost of remaining silent and paralyzed in the face of genocide."



Notwithstanding pleas from the victims and advocates around the world for cessation, systematic scorched earth campaigns continue in Sudan. As a documentary photographer, I have covered displacement in the aftermath of this aggression wielded by the ruthless Sudanese Government through years of documentation as a sustained effort to describe the legacy of two genocidal civil wars unfolding in modern-day Sudan.



Images are powerful statements by witnesses who were present as these events unfolded; indeed, they have become the primary sources in the documentation of our recent history. Yet an image becomes powerful only after it is given an audience.



The Cost of Silence collates a large body of images in order to construct a narrative of one of the most critical social issues of our time – genocide. Without the deafening context of culture and advertising too often present in magazine and television coverage of such issues, the images are given room to speak in a space designed to allow the viewer time to encounter the work unencumbered. With no headline ticker tape to distract its audience, a well-crafted photographic exhibition resonates with those who encounter it, conveying and translating precious testimony in a way no other outlet can. Its presence will be the impetus for further conversation of the crisis in Sudan. "The Cost of Silence" will continue to foster momentum toward a permanent anti-genocide constituency by empowering individuals and communities with the tools to influence public opinion, corporate responsibility, and government policy on genocide.



Work of this nature sheds light on global issues by capturing them on a human level in a way that simple statistics never can. The testimony must be seen. Ultimately, my goal is to raise the level of debate by offering a document which will give a human face to what was once unimaginable but nowadays shockingly familiar – a genocide unfolding before the eyes of a global community unwilling to stop it. The cost of doing nothing is one humanity can never afford.



Exhibits of Ryan Spencer Reed’s works are available for bookings in your community, gallery, school, corporation, or other institution


- 36 framed museum quality photographs -

- Ranging in size from: 16” x 24” to 40” x 60” -

- All ship in a custom crate with text panels -



Darfur Darfur Featuring the work of Ryan Spencer Reed and that of seven colleagues | Published by Melchar Media | $35

Photographs from some of the world’s most celebrated photojournalists depict hope within the atrocities that have claimed as many as 400,000 lives and displaced 2.5 million people. The book is published by Melcher Media and the contributor’s royalties were donated to build a new school for girls in Darfur.

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Samantha Power’s essay introduces the collection of photographs taken by former U.S. Marine Brian Steidle and photojournalists Lynsey Addario, Mark Brecke, Hélène Caux, Ron Haviv, Paolo Pellegrin, Ryan Spencer Reed, and Michal Ronnen Safdie.

“War is generally thought of in statistics about people most of us have never met, yet these beautiful and intense photographs of Darfur’s people let us see a new story. They present the individual beauty and specific brutality that coexists in this region by juxtaposing haunting images of pain with others full of tenacity, pride and hope,” said Leslie Thomas, the book’s editor.

The photographs unearth the consequences of genocide through images of child soldiers, suffering refugees and displaced persons, rebel forces, burnt bodies and destroyed villages; they provide an in-depth look at individual strife caused by the uprooting of entire communities.

Photographs taken away from the attacks are included to contrast life today with the strong communities in which Darfuris lived before fear arrived at their front door.

The compilation is based on the Darfur/Darfur exhibit, an internationally touring multimedia exhibit that showcases 150 color and black-and-white photographs through projections on city walls. The Darfur/Darfur exhibit has been touring since fall 2006.


Archival carbon pigment on cotton rag, numbered, signed, & embossed

8 x 12 | $350 | Edition of 25

12 x 18 | $900 | Edition of 15

20 x 30 | $1,500 | Edition of 9

30 x 45 | $2,200 | Edition of 6


Vidēre Editions LLC

photo@ryanspencerreed.com | 202.810.3075 | www.ryanspencerreed.com


• 2017 ArtPrize - Installation First Place, "OIL+WATER"

• 2015 Voies Off Festival::Arles - Les Rencontres D’Arles, "Despite Similarities to Reality"

• 2015 Leica Oskar Barnack Award Finalist + Audience Award Winner, "Despite Similarities to Reality"

• PhotoLucida’s 2015 Critical Mass Top 50, "Despite Similarities to Reality"

• 2015 Pictures of the Year Intl. (POYi) World Understanding Judges' Special Recognition, "Despite Similarities to Reality"

• Freedom to Create Prize, "Sudan: The Cost of Silence”

• Open Society Institute & Soros Foundation Documentary Photography Distribution Grant, "Sudan: The Cost of Silence"


• “Despite Similarities to Reality, This is a Work of Fiction”, Videre Editions/Weapons Grade Press, 2014

• “This is Not a Requiem for Detroit” Virginia Quarterly Review, Spring 2011, pp. 124–147

• “Detroit Forsaken, Ryan Spencer Reed” Photo Technique Magazine, March/April 2011

• “Darfur/Darfur: Life/War” New York: DK Melcher Media, 2008. ISBN 1-59591-045-X

• “Crisis in Darfur” United States Holocaust Memorial Museum & Google Earth Mapping Initiatives Layers, 2006




OIL+WATER - Site Specific Photographic Sculpture - Grand River, Grand Rapids, MI


• Waukegan ArtWise Cultural Arts Series, Waukegan, IL


• Muskegon Community College, Muskegon, MI


• Richard App Gallery, Grand Rapids, MI

• Wilkes University, Wilkes-Barre, PA


• Ohio Wesleyan University, Delaware, OH


• Harvard University, Cambridge, MA

• Birmingham Southern, Birmingham, AL


• Concordia University, Ann Arbor, MI

• SRI in the Rockies, Whistler, ON, Canada

• Grace Presbyterian, Calgary, AB, Canada

• Temple Sholom Chicago, Chicago, IL

• Kean University, Newark, NJ


• Ogden City Arts, Ogden, UT

• Ann Arbor Public Library, Ann Arbor, MI

• Ohio Wesleyan University, Delaware, OH

• Vermont University, Burlington, VT

• Augsburg College, Minneapolis, MN

• Naples Holocaust Museum, Naples, FL

• Wilkes University, Wilkes-Barre, PA

• Bucknell University, Lewisburg, PA

• Colorado University Boulder, CO


• Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, PA

• Northwestern University, Evanston, IL

• Michigan State University Law School, East Lansing, MI

• Samford University, Homewood, AL

• Dordt College, Sioux Center, IA


• Huntington University, Huntington, IN

• Jackson Symphony Orchestra, Jackson, MI

• Hope College, Holland, MI


• Calvin College, Grand Rapids, MI

Visiting Artist Lectures

• Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago, IL

• Harvard University, Cambridge, MA

• Yale University, New Haven, CT

• Brown University, Providence, RI

• Glenbow Museum, Calgary, AB, Canada

• Detroit Public Library, Detroit, MI

• Vermont University, Burlington, VT

• University of Calgary, AB, Canada

• Weber State University Convocation, Ogden, UT

• King’s College, Wilkes-Barre, PA

• Furman University, Greenville,

• Grand Valley University, Grand Rapids, MI

• University of Illinois, Springfield, IL

• King College, Bristol, MI

• Timeline Theater Company, Chicago, IL

* In addition to all aforementioned solo exhibition venues



• Voies Off Festival::Arles - Les Rencontres D’Arles, Arles, France

• Cortona On the Move: Off Circuit 2015, Cortona, Italy


• Grand Rapids Art Museum, ArtPrize 2014, “[Dis]Comfort Zones” Grand Rapids, MI

• The LUMIX Festival for Young Photojournalism, Hanover, Germany


• Angkor Photo Festival, Siem Reap, Cambodia


• International Theatre Institute (ITI) World Congress, Xiamen, China, Freedom to Create Exhibition

• National Gallery of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Freedom to Create Exhibition, Sarajevo, Yugoslavia

• Galerie Mirchandani+Steinruecke, Freedom to Create Exhibition, Mumbai, India

• Ana Tzarev Gallery, Freedom to Create Exhibition, New York, NY

• Devos Place Convention Center, ArtPrize 2011, Grand Rapids, MI


• Cairo Opera House, Freedom to Create Exhibition, Egypt

• Devos Place Convention Center, ArtPrize 2010, Grand Rapids, MI

• Queen’s Palace in Bagh-e-Babur, Freedom to Create Exhibition, Kabul, Afghanistan

• Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT

• Florida Holocaust Museum, St. Petersburg, FL


• University of Vermont, Burlington, VT

• Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, MA

• International Center of Photography, New York, NY

• La Casa Encendida, Madrid, Spain


• Spertus Institute, Chicago, IL

• Prince Felipe Science Museum, Valencia, Spain

• Organisation of the Islamic Conference, Dakar, Senegal

• Glenbow Museum, Calgary, AB, Canada

• City Museum of Ljubljana, Slovenia

• Paris, Jardin du Trocadéro, Paris, France

• Center for Multidisciplinary Studies, University of Zagreb, Croatia


• Gare do Oriente, Lisbon, Portugal

• Stockholmsmässan, Scandinavian Human Rights Conference, Stockholm, Sweden

• The Schouwburg Cultural Center, Rotterdam, Netherlands

• Detroit Public Library, Detroit, MI

• The New York Historical Society, New York, NY

• Field Museum, Chicago, IL

• The Institute for Contemporary Culture (ICC) at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM), Toronto, Canada

• The Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, MA

• Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montréal, Montréal, QC, Canada

• The Origins Centre, WITS University, Braamfontein, Johannesburg, South Africa

• Centro Internazionale di Fotografia (FORMA), Milan, Italy

• National Constitution Center, Philadelphia, PA

• Ortakoy Square with the United Nations High Commission on Refugees, Istanbul, Turkey

• The Primedia Holocaust and Genocide Unit, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa

• Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, Scottsdale, AZ

• University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

• George Eastman House, Rochester, NY

• Sun Valley Center for the Arts, Sun Valley, AZ

• The Jewish Museum, Berlin with Human Rights Watch, Berlin, Germany

• Brown University List Art Center, Providence, RI

• Guthrie Theater, Minneapolis, MN


• United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, DC

• Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA

• James Cohan Gallery, New York, NY




Beginning in December of 2004, exhibitions I have produced on the displaced populations of Sudan entitled "Sudan: The Cost of Silence" have been touring in earnest. "The Cost of Silence puts a human face to the unimaginable " an ongoing genocide before an impotent, apathetic world. “The Cost of Silence” has a track record for becoming a driving force of, and illustration for, the sound judgment found in those corporations who have begun to divest from the region. Ultimately, as the cultural backdrop for broader symposiums on issues facing Sudan, "The Cost of Silence" is now the impetus for further conversation in the higher education sector all over the country.

Through a strategic alliance with Genocide Intervention Network and channeling multiple exhibitions through chapters of S.T.A.N.D. at individual schools across the nation, I launched a second andmore virally distributed phase of “The Cost of Silence.” Raising the level of debate by expanding the distribution, and impact, my exhibitions included educational components to more adequately meet the demand of the growing advocacy community. This wide appeal availed my project to corporate sponsorship by companies interested in illustrating their position on socially responsible investment to the general public. The potential growth of "The Cost of Silence" remains exponential, given the growth of the advocacy community on this issue in merely five years, however a stronger fiscal engine will be needed to place this potential within reach. The importance of overall corporate backing is essential for the project to have the most impact while taking full advantage of both corporate and collegiate momentum to force change in Sudan.

By putting this visual narrative before the public using this model of distribution with additional endorsements, I hope I have managed, and will continue, to significantly raise the level of debate on the crisis in Sudan and motivate grass"roots political and economic action in audiences throughout the United States.



Out of the estimated 33 million displaced persons in the world, Sudan’s contribution is nearly 8 million. Despite the fact that the United States, among others, has formally labeled these scorched earth campaigns genocide, the killing and diaspora continues unchecked.

Notwithstanding pleas from around the world for cessation, and indictments by the ICC, the Sudanese government-sponsored systematic campaigns continue. Ongoing setbacks in the efforts of the United Nations to initiate a peacekeeping mission in the region have only helped to embolden the architects of genocide the world over. The evolving narrative of my photographic exhibition serves as an indictment of the minority Sudanese government's program - one of destruction and displacement - and the international community’s inaction, ultimately emboldening this rogue regime to murder, rape, and pillage with impunity while those who are most able to effect change continue to choose profits or indifference over justice.



St. Augustine wrote: “In the absence of justice ! what is sovereignty but organized robbery.” In Sudan, oppression and disastrous factional violence continues, while through the concept of sovereignty, the international community is afforded political cover to abandoning those without voice. The immaturity and ill structure of systems relied upon to prevent these atrocities become further unveiled by the day.

China’s ongoing success at circumventing the United Nations Security Council continues to secure profits through the tacit approval of a continued genocidal policy. Meanwhile, the United States unwillingness to ratify the International Criminal Court renders it useless as a tool for deterrence. Revisiting “never again” has irreparably weakened the precedence of genocide - the greatest casualty. The Government of Sudan has been conducting such campaigns for more than two decades.

However corporations and multi"nationals, whose profits reflect involvement in Sudanese policy, are finally beginning to feel the costly political downside of this behavior. More and more find higher returns in agreement with a growing number of those unwilling to remain as bystanders. The link between the student populations worldwide and the influence they wield over investing markets has served to bolster boardroom support for the pullout of these corporations.

If a solution is to surface it must come from the international community at the grassroots level, and it must continue to be market driven. Now is a crucial time for activists to learn about, reflect upon, and take action against violence in Sudan through divestment. It is important to act at this moment whilst barriers to entry in corporate funding have been breached as many U.S. and internationally based companies look to distance themselves from the appearance of profit taking in what has now been clearly defined as an ongoing genocide.



“The Cost of Silence” collates a large body of images in order to construct a narrative of perhaps the most critical social issue of our time: genocide. Without the deafening context of culture and advertising too often present in magazine and television coverage of such issues, the images are given room to speak in a space designed to allow the viewer time for encountering the work unencumbered. With no headline ticker tape to distract its audience, a well"crafted photographic exhibition resonates with those who encounter it conveying and translating sacred testimony in a way no other outlet can. Coordinating my efforts with those of advocacy chapters and various departments and institutes at institutions across the country will provide visual documentation and firsthand experience of the genocide to widespread, pre" existing, grassroots groups with humanitarian initiatives in place.

The interdisciplinary relevance of the exhibition topic will attract more attention and member to these constituencies, and its continued presence will be the impetus for further conversation of the crisis in Sudan. The facility that hosts my photographs will serve as an epicenter for other community-wide events related to increasing awareness, as well as a destination for classes studying the atrocity. It is my objective to make the exhibition as significant a part of each venue’s as possible.



“The Cost of Silence” campaign is for everyone. It is reaching elementary school through college" age communities in north America, the largest demographic in the country advocating for the needs of Sudanese people. Academic faculty and staff, as well as non"academic members from each school’s host community, will also have access and be encouraged to visit the exhibition. “The Cost of Silence” exhibitions have a track record for recruiting new activists and motivating old ones, garnering donations for humanitarian aid in Africa, encouraging people to speak out against genocide while urging political and economic intervention. The work will also serve major corporations looking to illustrate their position on profits versus people.

A well-organized, strong humanitarian infrastructure is the only way to prevent more violence in Sudan today and to curb the devastating consequences of genocidal violence in the future. In an effort to maximize the energy and momentum built by the campaign, “The Cost of Silence” exhibitions will encourage, endorse, and guide the expansion of the membership and support bases of the Genocide Intervention Network as well as Holocaust and tolerance museums. These bases will go on to educate their communities, pressure elected officials, and fundraise directly for civilian protection. "The Cost of Silence" will continue to foster momentum toward a permanent anti"genocide constituency by empowering individuals and communities with the tools to influence public opinion, and corporate responsibility, and government policy on genocide. The lessons learned about spheres of influence within critical social issues will resonate with participants and communities for generations to come.


Created By
Ryan Spencer Reed


All photographs and text ©Ryan Spencer Reed 2017 / All rights reserved

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