In a baroque cloister in the center of Prague, a sculpture of the crucified Christ – with his pale figure, tilted head and tense limbs representing the suffering of mankind – overlooks the annual World Press Photo exhibition, which closes on Oct. 2.
The World Press Photo 2016 exhibition at Prague’s Karolinum shows 147 photographs, in eight categories, reflecting the most important and tragic world events of the past year, from the Paris attacks to the refugee crisis in Europe.
The major part of the exhibition – with a separate room – is dedicated to the refugee crisis and the war in Syria. At the entrance is a series called “Where the Children Sleep” by the Swedish photojournalist Magnus Wennman. It shows children enroute to their new homes, sleeping wherever they can, in a forest, on the street, or in a refugee camp.
“Often, when you see stories about the refugee crisis and the refugees fleeing through Europe, you see the mud and the terrible clashes with the border police,” told Wennman to the World Press Photo. “But the simplest thing about these children – where they go to sleep every night – that’s the biggest part of their journey.”
Another series dedicated to the refugee crisis, “Douma’s Children” by the Syrian photojournalist Abd Doumany, is like an alterpiece in church getting the most attention. Visitors’ eyes are glued to the horrific consequences of the bombardments on the Syrian city of Douma. In one of the pictures, a man cradles the body of his baby daughter killed in an air raid; in another, a wounded, blood-covered boy cries out, awaiting treatment.
The World Press Photo of the Year winner “Hope for a New Life” by Australian Warren Richardson is in the same room. His black and white, blurry picture shows a Syrian refugee handing a baby through a hole in a razor wire barrier on the border of Serbia and Hungary.
Some other award-winning photos depict issues rarely covered in the Western media: gang-related violence in Honduras; civil unrest in Darfur, Sudan; and the problem of abusive Koranic boarding schools in Senegal.
Senegal also appears in the Sports category, in a series depicting traditional West African wrestling by Christian Bobst, from Switzerland. His photos show half-naked wrestlers fighting in the sand, and performing rituals before each fight, such as releasing a dove for good luck and making sacrifices.
In the same category, there are pictures of the Ebola Survivors’ Football Club in Sierra Leone, and photos of an amateur Russian hockey team, near Novgorod, which is comprised of players of all ages from school children to pensioners.
The first prize in the Sports category went to Christian Walgram from Austria for capturing the near-fatal fall of Czech skier Ondrej Bank at the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships. Walgram is also the Prague Prize Winner for this photo.
World Press Photo is an international contest. The pictures are judged by a jury comprising leading photojournalism professionals, with members changing every year. In 2016, the photo director of AFP Francis Kohn was chair of the Photo Contest general jury.
In 2016, 5,775 photographers from 128 countries submitted their photos, and now 147 award-winning photographs travel around the world as part of the exhibition shown in 100 cities and 45 countries.
The exhibition in Prague closes next week, though you can still go to see it at the Berlin Hauptbahnhof from Oct. 8 till 17 and the Munich Hauptbahnhof from Oct. 21 till 29.
Photos provided by the World Press Photo Foundation, cover photo: “Hope for a New Life” by Warren Richardson, Australia