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17 Sep 2014
World Press Photo Exhibition is always unlike anything else, and the show manages this year after year. It is photojournalism at its best; complex and powerful, and challenging.
This is the final week to catch the exhibition currently on show at the National Portrait Gallery, which closes this Sunday, September 21. Making the rounds yearly to 45 countries worldwide, World Press Photo exhibits the prize-winning entries of 2014.
Always on display are the extremes of photojournalism, and all of the images simply take your breath away. Earlier this week I spoke with Erin Banks from the World Press Wellington team. She said the real public favourite has been Danila Tkachenko series ‘Escape’ featuring Hermits in his native Russia, and I can see why it has drawn in Wellingtonians so well. Tkachenko spent three years staying with and documenting people who chose to live outside of society. His portraits show people and housing, slotted into the nooks and crannies of the woods they live in, and frames the strong material connection between these people and environment.
When I asked Erin for her highlight this year she responded “personally I have been incredibly moved and shocked by Sara Naomi Lewkowicz’s series of domestic violence. So often domestic violence is a crime shielded from public view, so while it is incredibly confronting to witness moments of violence so raw, it is an important reminder of an issue so prevalent in our society.” Lewkowicz’s images tell the story of this case of violence, focusing on the people. She has given information through action that follows expression and emotion, and allows viewers room to fill in what isn’t illustrated. For me, this drew empathy and sadness rather than a jarring distress, and her work has stayed in my mind.
Downloading the app and using it as you make your way through the content is well worth it. Though if you are anything like me you will end up too wrapped up in what is on offer and have to go back a second time to get the most out of the app experience. You can bookmark your favourite images and audio captions, and log into their website from your home computer to access them which is an exceptionally handy tool for processing the vivid and potent content.
The World Press Photo series is always demanding, and it is true that it only offers a small perspective of what is happening in some of the places in our world; but it is a perspective usually not available to us. Like any provocative art or exhibition, it can be imposing; as the foundation say themselves: It’s challenging. It’s moving. It’s our world.