The Grey Lines: Photojournalism
With the impending conclusion of another Art Week chapter and its mildly stimulating chatter from a multitude of “professional art critics”, ushered in the World Press Photo (WPP) exhibition taking center stage as it makes its fifth-year return to Singapore, hosted by The Straits Times Singapore.
Focused on photojournalism, compilations of powerful storytelling pieces from all across the globe will be featured from 29th January to 21st February 2016 at the National Museum of Singapore. Showcasing 145 images selected across some 98,000 entries from across the globe, the open exhibition features various genres ranging from General News, Nature, Daily Life, etc. Of which, the feature photograph for this year’s event cover is that of the winner for the Contemporary Issues Story category by photographer Mads Nissen.
Photographed in the heart of St. Petersburg, Mads Nissen features a love story centred on a “contradiction” where both subjects were male and thus automatically classified and stamped out as unnatural and undeserving of equal human rights, living in constant fear and oppression from his or her own people. In recent years, Russia’s distaste for the LGBT community has increased and the lack of lawful support and open discrimination has led to violence, hate crimes and public humiliation going unpunished. Similar to the discrimination of African Americans or the unequal laws surrounding women in the Middle East, there seems to be a common thread that stems from a specific discriminating standpoint of contradicting all forms of human equality, be they gender, race, religion, etc.
Amongst others are stories akin to that by acclaimed photographer and researcher Pete Muller, who covered and survived the Ebola outbreaks in early 2014. Bringing his audience through the harsh realities of the viral disease, which shook the world. He ends the series with a powerful image portraying mass burial mounds numbering an average of 40 per day at King Tom Cemetery, in the Sierra Leone capital of Freetown. His series was awarded the 1st prize Stories in General News, WPP 2015.
Photojournalism is in itself the art of capturing moments tied to our history, ranging from mass news coverage to untold stories in suburban parts of the world. With the coming of globalization after the World Wars, the world became a smaller place where opportunities to see beyond our immediate surroundings were provided better with the further introduction of the television and the internet. This has in turn accentuated distance albeit connecting the world to ‘box & window’ views of the walls of their own country, bringing less urgency to the dangers gripping another part of the world whilst they lavishly enjoy a cup of coffee over the news, sympathetic with a lesser sense of reality.
So what impact does photojournalism hold for us in this time? Are we truly informed or easily susceptible to half-truths and convenient information of say citizen journalism? Perhaps a trip down to the World Press Photo Exhibition might prove useful in turning the rusty cogs in that mind. To which, we post this final question. Is it time to take newer, more intelligent points of views to determining the reality of the world?