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A Caribbean flamingo inspects the improvised socks created to help heal its severe foot lesions, at the Fundashon Dier en Onderwijs Cariben, Curaçao. Photo: Jasper Doest.

Exhibition: World Press Photo 2019 at the War Museum—until 08.11.19

By Colin Noden on August 8, 2019


This year’s World Press Photo seems to be dominated by stories. The themes are set up so you may feel as if you’re immersed in a graphic novel. Prepare to spend some time to get the full experience. We barely covered it in an hour. One lady was led away by her family, vowing to return on her own.

The winning photo was part of a series on the migrant caravan. This photo had the power to cause a public uprising and change government policy. It was lucky. The public got to see it. Other award-winning photos will remain in obscurity. This exhibit is your chance to expand your perspective on the world.

Honduran toddler Yanela Sanchez cries as she and her mother, Sandra Sanchez, are taken into custody by US border officials in McAllen, Texas, USA, on 12 June 2018. Photographer: John Moore/Getty Images.

The press goes where the action is, and we usually associate this with the scrums and war zones. The exhibit covers these areas with unvarnished truth through the lens. Submissions are not allowed to be altered. The images can be harsh and disturbing.

An unidentified man tries to hold back the press as Saudi investigators arrive at the Saudi Arabian Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, amid a growing international backlash to the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Photo: Chris McGrath/Getty Images.

People clear rubble around buildings damaged in several airstrikes the previous day, Douma, Eastern Ghouta, Syria, 22 February 2018. Photo: Mohammed Badra/European Pressphoto Agency.

But there are other more hopeful things going on in the world. Watch out for the rise of Franco-African fashion from Senegal, thanks to designer Adama Paris.

Diarra Ndiaye, Ndeye Fatou Mbaye and Mariza Sakho model outfits by designer Adama Paris, in the Medina neighborhood of the Senegalese capital, Dakar, as curious residents look on. Photo: Finbarr O’Reilly.

Woman empowerment takes on a new dimension in the Akashinga rangers in Zimbabwe.

Petronella Chigumbura (30), a member of an all-female anti-poaching unit called Akashinga, participates in stealth and concealment training in the Phundundu Wildlife Park, Zimbabwe. Photo: Brent Stirton/Getty Images.

Make love not war is no longer a hopeful cliché for former FARC guerilla members in Columbia.

Yorladis is pregnant for the sixth time, after five other pregnancies were terminated during her FARC years. She says she managed to hide the fifth pregnancy from her commander until the sixth month by wearing loose clothes. Photo: Catalina Martin-Chico/Panos.

We get to watch nature maintain its balance without interaction with humans.

A female puma hunts a full-grown male guanaco in Torres del Paine, Patagonia, Chile. Photo: Ingo Arndt for National Geographic.

Our interactions with nature have some positive stories as well. Bob the Flamingo’s story is a fun read and ends with everyone living happily ever after.

A Caribbean flamingo inspects the improvised socks created to help heal its severe foot lesions, at the Fundashon Dier en Onderwijs Cariben, Curaçao. Photo: Jasper Doest.

But not all our interactions with nature work out well. There are often unintended consequences. The plight of Mexican organic honey producers had Joni Mitchell’s Big Yellow Taxi lyrics stuck in my head. “Hey farmer farmer…”

Beekeepers, led by Russel Armin Balan, tend their hives in Tinúm, Yucatán, Mexico. Photo: Nadia Shira Cohen.

Other unintended consequences are heartbreaking for us as humans. We are used to hearing these stories, but it is good to be reminded of them as the regional tragedies continue.

Demonstrators walk through teargas during anti-government protests, Caracas, Venezuela, 12 March 2014. Photo: Alejandro Cegarra.

My last impression of the exhibit was that so many of the photos are emblematic. I found myself mentally writing captions for them. In the Migrant Caravan story, there is a picture of a girl in a bank of flowers. In Contemporary Issues, there’s an Afghan refugee picture which looks biblical. And in General News, there’s an African picture of a man escaping the gas behind him which looks eerily like the Vietnamese “napalm girl”. I’ll let you create your own captions during your visit.

A girl pick flowers during the day’s walk from Tapanatepec to Niltepec, a distance of 50 km. Photo: Pieter Ten Hoopen, Agence Vu/Civilian Act.

An Afghan refugee comforts his companion while waiting for transport across the eastern border of Iran, on 27 July. Photo: Enayat Asadi.

A supporter of Martin Fayulu, leader of an opposition party, runs from police tear gas in Kinshasa, on 19 December 2018. Photo: John Wessels/Agence France-Presse

The winning photographs of the World Press Photo Exhibition 2019 will be on display in the Canadian War Museum’s Barney Danson Theatre (1 Vimy Place, Ottawa) from July 19 to August 11, 2019, during museum’s open hours: Monday to Wednesday 9am-5pm, Thursday 9am-8pm, Friday to Sunday 9am-5pm. Admission to the exhibit is free. See the museum’s website for more information.