A review by Ut Quyen for Hanoi Grapevine
The World Press Photo 2018 Exhibition showing at the Museum of the Vietnam Fine Arts University (42 Yet Kieu) takes viewers on a journey far more horrendous than our worst nightmare. This is where we come to realize that the most brutal, painful things that make human beings suffer shown through these sharp, vivid images are all real.
Corpses covered with yellow and red sheets laid out on the grass; a person of color alone in a dark room, face half-covered by a cloak concealing their gender; a woman kneeling down by her friend who was lying on the pavement in blood, debris scattered around them; a large group of women in black burqa standing in a quiet and gloomy circle; a naked boy sleeping (or passed out?) in the arms of a soldier, behind them a city destroyed by bombs and rockets; a young man wearing a gas mask, running for his life while his body caught on fire… Those are what were depicted in the photos nominated for one the most prestigious awards in press: the World Press Photo of the Year Award. Behind these pictures are true stories about the world where we live, the most persistent and thorny problems that humanity has always been facing since its ancient time: war, massacre, human killing one another.
A world of war and terror…
A large part of the World Press Photo Exhibition 2018 occupying two display booths at the center of the Vietnam Fine Arts University’s Museum hall devotes to stories of war and violence: the attacks of Myanmar authorities, under the support by groups of Buddhists, to the Muslim villages burning houses killed hundred of people, forced hundred thousand people flee the country on refugee boats, many of whom ended up drowning in the ocean; many Nigeria girls kidnapped by Boko Haram militants, were strapped with explosives, and ordered to blow themselves up in crowded areas; the catastrophic outcome of the war against the ISIS forces in the city of Mosul, Iraq, despite the victory of the government military; the SUV attack on the Westminster Bridge, London causing 5 deaths and 50 injuries; the rage of the nationalists in three states of the United States led to excessive violent and killing; the shooting killed 58 people and injured 500 of a gunman in Las Vegas; anti-Venezuelan protests led to conflict which almost burned a young man alive; blood scattered on the road at a hotel in Guatemala City after a violent crime… There are still more, but I am already exhausted in trying to list all this content.
In everyday life, when surfing Facebook, reading news or watching television, you may have over heard or seen such reports. But when a huge collection of those stories are made invisible all together through incredibly super vivid and hyper-realistic photos gathered in one place, it causes us an unbearable shock at the violence level that our humans are causing and suffering on this planet. And it is even more terrible when we clearly know that: this is just the tip of the visible part of an iceberg. There are still countless other of similar things which happening every day, even every hour, every minute that do not make it to the viewfinders cameras of journalists.
…of dangers which is trying to destroyed itself
Another part of the exhibition is dedicated to the global issues such as: the alarming increase of wastes in our community; the sharply increase of the deforestation in Brazil which are destroying vast areas of the Amazon and suffocating the Earth’s atmosphere; the number of animals facing the danger of extinction is still increasing despite tireless efforts of many international animal protection organizations around the world; the mothers trying to “breast ironing” in hope of slowing down the maturation process of their teenage girls in fear of being raped and sexual assaulted – which is not just an issue of Cameroon but also of many other countries in the world…
Yet there is still hope of love and peace to be found
However, the picture of the world we live in, described through the 130 photos which are being exhibited at the World Press Photo Exhibition 2018, is not entirely dark. Here and there we can still see pictures of two girls in a bio-energy village in Austria happily playing around and living in harmony with nature; of the Muslim girls in the Zanzibar practicing in their swimming class despite strict religious rules about women’s dress; of the guerrillas forces laying down weapons after 50 years of fighting the national military to find a solution for peace through football in Columbia; of the North Kenyan soldiers who were once feared of the elephants now taking care of the young orphaned and abandoned elephants… which warm our hearts.
The award winning photos in the 2018 Photo Contest have been made public announced on World Press Photo Foundation’s official website, and you can see them without even leaving your all from home. But it is completely different the feeling of seeing those photos on the computer screen versus and in a well organized and full of appealing content exhibition are completely different. Thirty minutes or an hourA 30-minute or 1-hour visit in walk around the exhibition hall in the Vietnam Fine Arts University has the power to pull us out of our daily- life worries, giving us time to reflect look back to ourselves, to understand know how many the precious things we had have got and have lost, and what have we have done, even a smallest act, to protect the world we are living in? As Ms. Nienke Trooster, Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Vietnam said stressed that: the stories showcased in this exhibition can make people stop, feel, think and act.
The World Press Photo 2018 exhibition returned to Vietnam for the first time after 15 years after 15 years absence. The exhibition opens , opening until July 06. When visiting the exhibition, you can also take part in the ‘See the story’ contest to win awards from the organizers. “See the story”, a contest to aiming to deepen the understanding of these photos’ meaning, is also open to public.
Founded in 1955 in Amsterdam, the World Press Photo Foundation is a global platform connecting professionals and audiences through trustworthy visual journalism and storytelling. World Press Photo of the Year is a world renowned exhibition which collects the best and most memorable press photographs from around the globe. The winning photos are exhibited in more than 80 countries and featured in a collection book printed in six languages