Winners of Portraits – Stories | World Press Photo 2020
A photojournalistic photograph’s intent is to inform and educate, and eventually, fuel the commencement of necessary reparations. Since 1955, the World Press Photo Awards has been an instrumental force in this arena, by bringing harrowing stories of terror, as well as those of hope and resilience. These stories scream vociferously of the world’s apathy against its citizens, that we need to do better. The foundation has announced the winners of the contest on its online channels on the 16th of April. Here is a look at the photographs from the 63rd edition of the awards.
First prize: Adam Ferguson, Australia, for The New York Times Magazine
The Haunted: As the Islamic State group (IS) retreated from territory around Mosul in northern Iraq, thousands of former IS prisoners were liberated, many in severe states of trauma. The photographer took posed portraits of displaced Yazidi people and other minorities who had suffered human rights violations perpetrated by IS, in camps for displaced people in northern Iraq. The Yazidi religion is monotheistic and can be traced back to ancient Mesopotamian and Abrahamic roots. Due to their unique beliefs, the Yazidi people were seen by the Sunnis of IS as ‘devil worshippers’. When IS occupied ancestral Yazidi lands in northern Iraq in 2014, IS fighters massacred around 5,000 Yazidi men. Women and girls were abducted and forced into sexual slavery, and boys forced to train as child soldiers. Some 500,000 Yazidis were displaced. Many now live in refugee camps in Iraqi Kurdistan and Nineveh Governorate in Iraq. Jan Kizilhan, a psychologist working in one such camp at a center for people who survived the atrocities, points to the effects of this severe personal and cultural trauma. These include feelings of helplessness and powerlessness, tension, and a variety of physical illnesses.
Second prize: Tatsiana Tkachova, Belarus
Between Right and Shame: Belarus abortion laws allow termination on request up to 12 weeks of pregnancy, and in certain medical or social circumstances up to 28 weeks, which places them among the most liberal in Europe. Nevertheless, abortion is still a taboo for many women, and many are reluctant to admit they have had a termination. ‘No abortion week’ campaigns are held annually, and the decision to have a termination is often accompanied by a sense of shame. In this project, Belarusian women who have considered or undergone abortion tell their stories. The women had a range of concerns behind their decisions surrounding abortion—from contamination after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster to fear of poverty, not wanting to be a single parent, or a background of sexual abuse. As their decisions were often made with difficulty, in this story they did not want to show their faces and their names have been changed.
Third prize: Tadas Kazakevičius, Lithuania
Between Two Shores: The Curonian Spit is a 98-kilometer-long curved, sand-dune spit that separates the Curonian Lagoon from the Baltic Sea. Its southern portion lies in Kaliningrad Oblast; the northern part is in Lithuania. The dunes are among the highest in Europe, and the Spit has attracted artists for centuries. At times it is no more than 400 meters wide, at most 3,800 meters. Even at its heart, you are never far from one or the other shore. The photographer wants to convey that space is supposed to be heard, smelled, absorbed, and felt with all possible senses because the eyes do not show enough. The subjects of the portraits chose their own locations, and closed their eyes to emphasize their connection to the landscape.
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