World Press Photo ‘16

Photojournalism’s finest comes to Vienna

With the dissemination of images today moving faster than the shutter speed of a camera, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Amid the deluge of often banal snapshots, it’s no wonder we crave stories of truth, insight, nuance and awe. Luckily, the World Press Photo exhibit is returning for its fifteenth year in Vienna to celebrate the richness and versatility of the medium, heralding the importance of freedom of the press and the indelible power of storytelling.

Touring the world as a traveling exhibition since 1955, World Press Photo has become one of the most prestigious journalistic and documentary competitions on the globe. It offers the opportunity to see the work of 42 winning photographers, painstakingly chosen out of 6,000 candidates from 128 countries. Over 80,000 photographs were entered, each with their own political and cultural relevance.

Given the current turmoil of millions crossing to Europe in search of a safer place to call home, it’s unsurprising that the refugee crisis dominated submissions this year. Warren Richardson’s winning photograph “Hope for a New Life” depicts a man who spent the night hiding from border guards, desperately passing an infant through a break in the four-meter-high barb wire fence into another’s waiting hands.

See overwhelmed medics struggling with casualties after a sustained bombardment of a Damascus children’s hospital, hauntingly captured by 25-year-old freelance photographer Abd Doumany. Or Mauricio Lima’s compelling picture of a severely injured IS fighter receiving medical treatment at a Kurdish Hospital. These photos not only evoke difficult questions about current and ongoing issues, they also demonstrate the relentless bravery of photographers willing to risk their lives to get an elusive glimpse of the truth.

Slices of Life

Sometimes it’s as simple as re-connecting people: Tara Todras’s empowering series the “Ebola Survivors Football Club” shows the important strides made by Erison Turay, who lost 38 members of his own family to the disease: he uses the power of sports to shatter the social stigma of those who overcome the illness.

The exhibition explores remote and inaccessible places: David Guttenfelder’s “Life in the Cult of Kim” offers compelling insight into hitherto unknown North Korean culture. Roberto Schmidt’s series of monumental avalanche photos, brought on by a 7.8 magnitude earthquake in Nepal in April last year, elicits both shock and admiration for the heroics of the precarious rescue effort, reminding us of the destructive power of nature.

Nature also appears more benign: Sara Lewkowicz’s winning “My wife and I are (both) pregnant” is one of many examples outside the usual suspects of international photo journalism: it documents the serendipity of a female couple from New Jersey simultaneously impregnated with IVF treatment after trying for years to start a family together. Eventually, they give birth 4 days within each other to two happy, healthy sons.

With an ever-changing media landscape, World Press Photo curates today’s relentless torrent of photos and allows you to witness the dynamism of photojournalism at your own speed. Unveiling the untold and provoking debate, these pictures draw lessons in compassion, faith and amazement from a cacophony of visuals to well-earned acclaim.

Through Oct 16.

7., Westbahnstraße 40
Open daily 11:00–19:00; Thursday until 21:00

Genevieve Doyle
Genevieve Doyle
Genevieve Doyle is writing for METROPOLE on her summer off from reading English Literature at The University of Cambridge. When she isn’t attending fairs to buy and source beautiful antiques and textiles, she likes painting murals and walking her very large Irish deerhound.

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