ASTANA – The annual World Press exhibition following the World Press Photo Contest kicked off at Keruen Shopping Mall on Dec. 10. The 56-year-old event is acknowledged as the world’s premier photojournalism exhibit. It was dedicated to Human Rights Day and showcased scenes of violence against humanity in different parts of the world.
The exhibited pictures were divided into nine categories such as general news, how news topics are covered and their aftermath. Topics included politics, economics, conflict, social tension, relief and crime through the lenses of spot news, witnessing breaking news and unfolding events, as well as contemporary issues, documenting issues affecting people’s lives and society today. Social, environmental, health and economic issues were major focuses. An independent jury gathered in Amsterdam in February this year to choose the best pictures from 103,486 photos sent from different parts of the world.
“We chose the winners according to two requirements. First of all, pictures should reflect the global meaning of the competition. Secondly, each judge could express his or her feelings about the picture. That helped us pick the best of the best and stay unprejudiced,” explained the president of the jury, Vice-President and Director of Photography of the Associated Press Santiago Lyon.
The first place for general news was taken by Italian photographer Alessio Romenzi who took a picture of refugees trying to escape by illegally crossing the border between Syria and Turkey for Time Magazine. It was reported that the number of refugees reached 2.5 million people in November this year. Most of them moved into Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan.
Another winner in the spot news category was Bernat Armangue from Spain whose photograph was taken in Gaza and is of the aftermath of an Israeli bombing. The military operation called “Cloudy Pillar” was targeted against Hamas military and missile depots and executed on Nov. 14, 2012. Hamas military commander Ahmed al-Dzhabary was killed on the first day of the operation. However, the military operation continued with the bombing of civilian areas. A ceasefire agreement was signed on Nov. 21, 2012. The picture was taken for the Associated Press on Nov. 18.
Photographer Dania Jan Grarup won first place in sports by capturing Somali women playing basketball. Despite UN protection over the capital city, Mogadishu, there are still Al-Qaeda militants in the town. They prohibit women from playing sports. Members of the women’s national team for basketball were repeatedly threatened for violating Shari’ah law. As a punishment, every woman who plays basketball is to lose her right hand or left leg.
The 2012 World Press Photo of the Year was taken by Sweden’s Paul Hansen. It depicts the funeral procession of two little children killed during the “Cloudy Pillar” military operation in Gaza.
“This picture shows the true and complex character of the Gaza sector. This character finds its response in your heart, mind and soul,” Lyon said.
Apart from supporting high standards in photojournalism and documentary photography worldwide, World Press Photo is striving to generate wide public interest in photography as well as in the free exchange of information.
“When I look at the winners’ pictures I see the first class photo shoots. These are strong and powerful pictures you won’t forget for long. I also believe they will become an icon for young photographers who learn how to document world events and inform the world community about current situation in different countries. Our understanding of modern and complex world depends on the results of their work,” explained Lyon.
World Press Photo is an independent, non-profit organization with an office in Amsterdam, where it was founded in 1955. World Press Photo receives support from the Dutch Postcode Lottery and is sponsored worldwide by Canon. World Press Photo holds official accreditation for good practices from the Central Bureau on Fundraising (CBF).
The exhibition tour programme takes place in approximately 100 cities in 45 countries of and is still expanding. The exhibit will remain in Astana until Dec. 26.