World Press Photo at Palazzo delle Esposizioni in Rome

The world’s most popular traveling photo exhibition

As the famous director Jean-Luc Godard once said, photography is truth – a truth that can be both beautiful and uncomfortable. This is evident from the stunning but provocative collection of photographs that are part of the World Press Photography exhibition. While the photographs of the winners were supposed to be on display at the Palazzo delle Esposizioni on April 25th, the exhibition has been moved to the upcoming summer months, in accordance with the Covid-19 regulations.

The exhibition will showcase photos nominated for the World Photo Contest prize, in which 4,282 photographers entered this year from 125 different countries, with at total of 73,996 photographs submitted. Forty-four photographs made it to the finals, coming from photographers from 24 countries. Among the finalists there are also six Italians: Fabio Bucciarelli, Luca Locatelli, Alessio Mamo (who ranked second in the category “General News, single photo”), Nicolò Filippo Rosso, Lorenzo Tugnoli and Daniele Volpe.

The 2020 winner of the World Press Photo Exhibition is the Japanese photographer Yasuyoshi Chiba with his photograph Straight Voice (see above)The picture portrays a young man who, illuminated by his companions’ cell phones, recites poetry during a protest against the democratic government of Sudan during a blackout in Khartoum on June 19th, 2019.

Yasuyoshi Chiba said: “The place was a total blackout. Then, unexpectedly, people started clapping hands in the dark. People held up mobile phones to illuminate a young man in the center. He recited a famous protest poem, an improvised one. Between his breath, everybody shouted ‘thawra’, the word revolution in Arabic. His facial expression and voice impressed me, I couldn’t stop focusing on him and captured the moment.

Instead, the French photographer Romain Laurendeau won 2020’s “World Press Photo Story of the Year” with his photograph Kho, The Genesis of Revolt (see above). His capture represents the deep unease of  young generations due to the extreme unemployment rate (according to UNESCO 72% of people under 30 are unemployed), inspiring the whole population to unite to their cause and giving birth to the the biggest protest movement Algeria has seen in the last decades.

Romain Laurendeau said: “It was impossible for a part of me not to recognize myself in these young people. They are young but they are tired of this situation and they just want to live like everyone else.

Other stunning captures of this year’s edition include Ethiopian photojournalist Mulugeta Ayene’s photograph of the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crash site (see above) where rescue workers are searching through debris; as well as the picture of a relative of the victim of the crash mourning (see above). Irish photojournalist Ivor Prickett’s also brings in a powerful shot. That of an injured Kurdish fighter who receives a hospital visit from his girlfriend is another very powerful picture (see above). On October 9th, Turkey invaded northern Syria, aiming to end Kurdish control over the territory, after those same Kurdish forces had given their lives for the fight against IS. Not to mention Italian photographer Fabio Bucciarelli’s capture “The Rebellion Against Neoliberalism” in Chile, where thousands of women marched on December 4th chanting “Un Violador en tu Camino” (A Rapist in your Path). Each protestor wore a red scarf, red lipstick and a blindfold symbolizing the sexual nature of assaults and in solidarity with people blinded by police.

One of the most memorable parts of the exhibition is the wall showing every winning photo since the competition began in 1955. It takes the viewer on a roller coaster ride of the major events across the world over the last fifty years – some we may have tried to forget, but remain printed in film to remind us of our past.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words – and without using any, this exhibition tells the stories of hundreds of people around the world. In a world where fake news is increasingly influential, it is clear just how important these photos are: they represent freedom of expression, freedom of the press and most importantly, the truth.


Summer 2020

Palazzo delle Esposizioni

Via Nazionale, 194

Open Tues-Thurs, 10am-8pm; Fri-Sat, 10am-10pm; Sun, 10am-8pm; Mon closed

Entry fee €8-10

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