The annual photo contest exhibition encourages the public to reflect on global challenges and to recognize the power of photojournalism
Finalist and winning pieces for the World Press Photo Contest 2023 are on display at Palazzo delle Esposizioni in Rome from May 5th until June 4th. The 66th Edition of the Contest, created by the World Press Photo Foundation in Amsterdam is promoted by the Department of Culture of Roma Capitale and the Palaexpo Special Company.
The exhibition presents us with photos from all around the globe depicting different hardships and cultural and societal problems. The photography raises awareness on current humanitarian issues with images that will stay with you long after you leave the exhibition. From dementia to racism, from political instability to the conflict in Ukraine, these thought-provoking images create a lasting impression on viewers, leading them to utmost empathy.
The World Press Photo Contest celebrates photojournalists from all over the world, with various backgrounds and experiences. The exhibit itself has an easy-to-follow layout with each submission having an information page next to the photos. Photos are placed on a clean white wall so as to not draw attention away from the pieces.
On the wall at the back of the exhibit is a large board with photos from previous years, illustrating the long history of this contest and the power of photography, while encouraging us to reflect on past themes and stories. The board shows us the early entries in this competition with black and white images, and we can clearly see the evolution of technology and photography as the photos become sharper and more vivid over time.
There is also a QR code that connects you to an audio guide of the exhibition where we can hear the photographers’ own voices to get a deeper understanding of the photos and the photographers’ perspectives.
The Photo of the Year Award went to Ukrainian photographer Evgeniy Maloltetka for his heartbreaking image of a pregnant woman being carried on a stretcher outside the maternity ward of a hospital damaged by Russian forces. The photo, taken on March 9, 2022, shows us the sad and heartbreaking reality that the people of Ukraine are still facing. In fact, the story behind this photo is an example of what is happening on a daily basis in Ukraine: the woman featured died shortly after the photo was taken, after giving birth to a stillborn child.
The World Press Photo Story of the Year Award was claimed by Mads Nissen, a Danish photographer with his photo story titled ‘The Price of Peace in Afghanistan.’ The photo story portrays the continued hardship faced by the people of Afghanistan with the continuance of political instability under the Taliban regime.
The World Press Long-Term Project Award was won by Armenian photographer Anush Babajanyan for his photo story titled ‘Battered Waters.’ This depicted four central Asian countries Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan who are currently dealing with a climate crisis and their water resources. The project highlights the impact of the droughts but shows us the resilience of the people during this time.
The World Press Photo Open Format Award, which is dedicated to projects that use different media such as videos or documentaries, was given to Mohamed Madhy for his photos capturing the small fishing village Al Max in Egypt. We can see the beauty of this small village with people swimming and fishing through archival images from residents of the area, letters and handwritten drawings.
Aside from the main category winners, there was an amazing display of other photographic works by other photojournalists. Issues surrounding racism in the US can be seen in the piece ‘The Voice of New York is Drill’ which describes how the police use the lyrics of rappers to find evidence of gang-related crimes.
Also displayed are other submissions detailing the conflict in Ukraine: ‘The Siege of Mariupol’ also by winner Evgeniy Maloltetka and ‘Yana and Victor’ transport us to the gray and hostile landscape of the once-peaceful Ukrainian streets.
The exhibition displayed a wide range of other topical issues such as environmental issues, as seen in ‘Net-Zero Transmission’ by Italian photojournalist Simone Tramonte.
In a more uplifting note, the submission by Tomás Francisco Cuesta shows the celebrations in Buenos Aires after Argentina’s World Cup win last December. After viewing heavy and somewhat grim themes, it is refreshing to see smiling fans proudly waving the Argentinian flag.
Overall, the exhibition is a thought-provoking experience where one leaves feeling grateful for the life we live.
WORLD PRESS PHOTO 2023
5 May – 4 June 2023
Palazzo delle Esposizioni, Via Nazionale, 194
Tue-Sun from 10am to 10pm
Tickets: Full € 12.50; Reduced € 10.00