Attending the World Press Photo winners exhibition is now kind of an annual ritual for me. Glad to finally make it before it ends this Sunday. This time, the exhibition is held at the National Museum of Singapore, at the ground floor foyer as well as the basement, which I thought was slightly better (and cooler in terms of air-con) than along the open corridors of Raffles Hotel where it was held in the past two years.
This year’s selection didn’t grab me as much though – not sure if it’s because most of them I have seen featured many times in print as well as online, while for the rest, most of the subject matter are rather harrowing and depressing. It didn’t help that the NFC function on my android phone didn’t work and I didn’t get access to additional info in regards to the exhibited photos. Still, a picture is worth a thousand words as they say, so here are the ones that hit home with me:
Lu Guang, China, Long-Term Projects, third prize stories
I was fascinated by this photo cos I thought it was sad that the sheep had to nibble grass and breathe in “air” next to coal-mining factories in Inner Mongolia until I found out that these are FAKE statues of life-sized sheep placed by the Chinese government in order to give an impression that livestock is alive and well despite industralisation which is anything but. Which makes this photo even more poignant especially how the photographer had to bypass red tape and made all kinds of connections in order to get into the thick of things. Remind me of what actress-director Joan Chen had to do in order to get her 1998 critically acclaimed film, Xiu Xiu: The Sent Down Girl made.
Paolo Marchetti, Italy, Nature third prize stories
The 2015 Nature entries were really outstanding, full of colour and life. This one though drained the life out of me, especially the bottom far left picture of dozens of slaughtered Colombian caimans, once poor cousins of their country alligators and crocodiles, but are now much sought after for their skin which are reportedly more durable (bottom far right). The story is that skins these days are from farmed animals and farmers are obliged to return a number of caiman back to the wild to replenish natural stocks. Still…
Massimo Sestini, Italy, General News, second prize singles
War refugees risking their lives on overcrowded boats in treacherous seas seeking asylum in whichever country willing to take them will stay with us for a long time to come. Just wondering how come the tragic photo of that little boy in red washed up on the Turkish shoreline is not among the finalists. ‘Cos that was certainly the photo that woke many people up to just how serious and tragic this situation has become…
Jerome Sessini, France, Spot News, first prize stories
As mentioned, there were a lot of depressing (albeit standout) photos on war, conflict, poverty, social disease, etc, which I confessed I tried to look away from but this series on the Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 tragedy was too close to home to ignore. Never mind the fact that the pictures were seen a gazillion times across all media. As we continue to pray for the victims’ loved ones, let’s also not forget what the villagers of that eastern Ukrainian town had to go through especially those who are forever scarred by the memory of dead bodies crashing through their roofs or onto their fields…
Bao Tailiang, China, Sports, first prize singles
Being a football fan, this photo definitely scored with me. Messi, arguably the most gifted footballer on the planet right now, staring woefully at the one football prize that still eludes him – the coveted World Cup. That is a split second moment that was truly well captured, so kudos to the photographer.
Tomas van Houtryve, Belgium, Contemporary Issues, second prize stories
Last but not least, this photo didn’t struck me as anything spectacular until you read that it was taken by a drone. Which means, with so many drone operators these days, your casual “exercise on the beach” may be filmed by a total stranger without you knowing it, or worse, if it was assigned by government powers that be (mainly US it seems), it can be interpreted as “signature behaviours as evidence of the existence of a training camp…” And you thought our obsession with taking pictures of our every meal was bad…
The World Press Photo 2015 Exhibition runs at the National Museum of Singapore till Sun Feb 21. Admission is free.