Winners of the Long-term Projects | World Press Photo 2021
Here is a look at the most powerful narratives from the Long-term Projects category of the World Press Photo 2021 contest.
Over the years, World Press Photo has played a pivotal role in showcasing significant stories—revolutions against corrupt governments, migrations due to conflicts, the battle of survival of endangered species, and stories of hope and resilience. The contest recognises and awards the best visual storytellers who have gone out of their way to document these moving narratives, with an aim to bring about change. This year’s winning images represent perseverance, as the world grapples with a pandemic amidst ongoing chaos and destruction. However, there is a glimmer of hope, as a few citizens have begun to take charge.
First Prize: Antonio Faccilongo, Italy, Getty Reportage
Habibi: Nearly 4,200 Palestinian security detainees are being held in Israeli prisons, according to a February 2021 report by human rights organization B’Tselem. Some face sentences of 20 years or more. To visit a Palestinian prisoner in an Israeli jail, visitors have to overcome a number of different limitations resulting from border laws, prison regulations, and restrictions set by the Israel Security Agency (ISA). Visitors are usually allowed to see prisoners only through a transparent partition, and talk to them via a telephone receiver. Conjugal visits are denied and physical contact is forbidden, except for children under the age of ten, who are allowed ten minutes at the end of each visit to embrace their fathers. Since the early 2000s, long-term Palestinian detainees hoping to raise families have been smuggling semen out of prison, hidden in gifts to their children. Semen is secreted in a variety of ways, such as in pen tubes, plastic candy wrappers, and inside bars of chocolate. In February 2021, Middle East Monitor reported that the 96th Palestinian baby had been born using sperm smuggled from Israeli prison. Habibi, which means ‘my love’ in Arabic, chronicles love stories set against the backdrop of one of the longest and most complicated conflicts in modern history. The photographer aims to show the impact of the conflict on Palestinian families, and the difficulties they face in preserving their reproductive rights and human dignity. The photographer chooses not to focus on war, military action, and weapons, but on people’s refusal to surrender to imprisonment, and on their courage and perseverance to survive in a conflict zone.
Second Prize: Karolina Jonderko, Poland
Reborn: ‘Reborn’ babies first appeared in the 1990s. Each is unique, carefully crafted by artists known as ‘reborners’. The hyper-realistic reborn babies are created with such details as birthmarks, veins, implanted hair, pores, tears, and saliva. More sophisticated reborns are equipped with electronic systems capable of reproducing the heartbeat, breathing, and sucking of a real baby. Most of the dolls are made of vinyl, though the more realistic ones are made from silicone. Human hair is used for eyelashes, and completed dolls are sometimes perfumed with a ‘new baby’ smell. Reborn babies are available whole and in kit form and can be purchased online and at fairs. The process of buying a reborn can be done in such a way as to simulate adoption: dolls come with ‘adoption’ or ‘birth’ certificates. Reborn babies have been used in pediatric training to teach students practical childcare skills, and the use of dolls in care homes has been shown to help reduce disruptive behaviour in people with dementia. While most reborn owners are doll collectors, others have experienced miscarriage, neonatal deaths, have no means for adoption, or suffer from empty nest syndrome, and may use the doll as a substitute for a child. The photographer wished to explore the phenomenon of how artificial babies evoke a genuine emotional response in adults. Each woman portrayed in this project has a personal motivation for having a reborn baby. Some who cannot have, or who have lost, a baby, give their love to an artificial one, looking after them, changing them, and buying them clothes. For some, the dolls are a means of dealing with loss or anxiety; for others they provide companionship.
Third Prize: Angelos Tzortzinis, Greece, partially funded by the Magnum Foundation
Trapped in Greece: Tens of thousands of people fleeing war and poverty-stricken homelands have become stranded in Greece since the height of Europe’s refugee crisis in 2016. According to a UNHCR report in March 2016, more than one million people, mostly refugees from Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan, had crossed into Greece since the start of 2015. As Balkan and European countries north of Greece began closing their borders to incoming migrants, more than 90,000 people were left trapped in Greece, in camps or on the streets. Moria Reception and Identification Center on the island of Lesbos, in the eastern Aegean, was the largest refugee camp in Europe, until it burned down in a fire in September 2020. By the summer of 2020, approximately 20,000 people were living in a camp built to accommodate 3,000. Residents complained of rain, cold, illness, lack of food and safety, unsanitary toilets, and water shortages.The fire, which broke out on 9 September, almost completely destroyed the camp. The Greek government said that the fires were started deliberately by migrants protesting that the camp had been put in lockdown as the result of a COVID-19 outbreak. On the nearby island of Samos, at the end of 2019, almost 8,000 refugees were living on a former military base that had been built to hold 650. Islanders held regular protests demanding the transfer of facilities to the mainland, and camp residents protested against their living conditions. On 2 November 2020, fire broke out in the camp, two days after the island was struck by a 6.7 magnitude earthquake. Between 100 and 150 people lost their homes. The photographer has been working on migration issues for eight years. This project—shot on Samos and Lesbos, and in refugee camps around Greece—aims to explore human and social adaptability.