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The World Press Photo Exhibition 2020 Was Launched in Chisinau: "An exhibition where you can feel the impulse of change"

01 December 2020
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This year, the Republic of Moldova hosts the fourth edition of the prestigious international World Press Photo exhibition, organized by the World Press Photo Foundation in the Netherlands, in partnership with the Independent Journalism Center, with the support of the Netherlands Embassy Office in Chisinau. The launching of the exhibition, traditionally conducted under the title ‘Stories that Matter’, took place on Wednesday, 18 November 2020, at the National Museum of History of Moldova.
 
In his speech, given in Romanian, the Head of the Netherlands Embassy Office in Chisinau, Floris van Eijk, mentioned that the World Press Photo Foundation is known for its work in support of photojournalism. ‘The exhibition presents real stories that are not manipulated or edited. They help us understand the complexity of the challenges facing this world. This exhibition is a way of celebrating the freedom of media and highlighting stories that were hidden behind biased texts or editorial censorship. We support independent media and we believe this is one of the most important pillars of a democratic society. The voice of the free media must not only be heard but also encouraged’, said Floris van Eijk.
 
In a video in the Netherlands, Susan van den Berg, Coordinator of World Press Photo Exhibitions, Netherlands, noted that the exhibition carries with it the values of accuracy, diversity and transparency. ‘By using state-of-the-art technologies and multiple facts and data verification techniques, World Press Photo ensures compliance with these principles. At a time when the importance of credible visual information cannot be underestimated and the integrity of photo-journalism is threatened by potential digital manipulation, World Press Photo represents an indicator of accuracy in this field’, said Suzan van den Berg.
 
She noted that this year's exhibition shows the value the jury has given to the role of the global youth movement. ‘Not only Yasuyoshi Chiba's World Press Photo of the Year – ‘Straight Voice’ captures the intense, peaceful and comforting spirit of Sudan's civilian-led protests, but other photos from other categories, too, depict an international peaceful protest movement. It is an exhibition where the impulse of change can be felt’, said Susan van den Berg.

Nadine Gogu, Executive Director of the Independent Journalism Center, pointed out that photography, as part of visual art, probably is one of the most important forms of journalistic image. ‘When I say this, I mean not only the role that photography has played in the development of the traditional media but also the role it currently has in the development of the online media. Photography remains the medium that attracts the curiosity and interest of readers, helps them navigate more easily through texts, to select topics that are of public interest. Photography must have emotional power and convey messages. This exhibition is about emotions, photography becoming also a good means of communication between people’, said Nadine Gogu.

The photojournalist Nicolae Pojoga was keen to note that ‘he has all the respect for photo contests’. ‘Something important is happening in every part of the world and we need to make it public. Among billions of pictures that exist in the world, only the iconic ones will forever be known and for their value, we have to work’, said Nicolae Pojoga.
 
The director of the National Museum of History, Eugen Sava, said that it is an honor for the museum to host the World Press Photo exhibition in Chisinau for the third time, urging visual arts lovers to visit the museum to admire the best photos of 2019. 
 
The World Press Photo 2020 exhibition showcases photographs that capture major realities and events that have marked humanity, being taken during 2019 in different parts of the world. The jury set as a key theme the 2019 protests and the role of young people in promoting change. The entries on environmental issues also stood out, is represented not only in the Environment category but also in other categories such as Contemporary Issues, Nature, or General News. All this points out the importance of the subject.
 
The World Photo of the Year Award went to the Japanese photographer Yasuyoshi Chiba, who captured the intense, peaceful and comforting spirit of Sudanese protests in favor of a civilian-led democracy. Under the light of mobile phones, a young man recites a protest poem while the protesters chant slogans calling for the establishment of civilian leadership, during a blackout in  Khartoum, Sudan, on 19 June. The protests began in Sudan in December 2018 and spread rapidly throughout the country, calling for an end to the 30-year regime of dictator Omar al-Bashir. On 11 April, al-Bashir was removed from power and a transitional military government was established. The protests continued, the population demanding civilian power transition. On 3 June, government forces opened fire on unarmed protesters. Dozens of people were killed and many protesters were subjected to violence. The authorities tried to quell the protests by repeatedly shutting down electricity and blocking internet access. The protesters, however, communicated through text messages, speech and using megaphones, continuing to resist the military regime. Despite another violent repression on 30 June, the pro-democracy movement finally succeeded, signing on 17 August a power-sharing agreement with the military.
 
The winning photos were selected from 73,996 entries, taken by 4,282 photographers from 125 countries. The jury awarded 44 photographers from 24 countries: Algeria, Australia, Belarus, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Ethiopia, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Lithuania, Mexico, Poland, Peru, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Turkey, United Kingdom and the USA.
 
The annual international World Press Photo Exhibition travels all over the world. It is installed in about 100 showrooms in around 45 countries and is visited by over 4 million people each edition. Before arriving in Chisinau, the exhibition was on display in Amsterdam, Mexico City, Bari, Seville, Saguenay, Turin, Vitoria-Gasteiz, Valencia, Dortmund.
 
The first edition of the World Press Photo took place in 1955 when a group of Dutch photographers organized a contest to showcase their work to a global audience. Over the years, it has become one of the most prestigious photography and visual journalism contests in the world.
 
Here in Chisinau, the general public is invited to discover the stories behind the winning photos at the National Museum of History of Moldova from 19 November – 9 December 2020.
 
In Moldova, the exhibition was held for the first time in 2017.
 
The event was organized by the World Press Photo Foundation from the Netherlands, in partnership with the Independent Journalism Center, with the support of the Embassy Office of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.