Sun, May 16, 2004 - Page 19 News List

A passion for pictures and world events

The World Press Photo Exhibition at Eslite Gallery showcases the winners of one of the world's top photojournalism competitions



While US President George W. Bush is facing a mounting crisis after the release of photos of his soldiers' barbaric behavior toward their Iraqi captives, a moment showing a simple act of kindness by an American GI is making waves, albeit quietly, at the Eslite Gallery.

The grand prize winner of this year's World Press Photo Exhibition, by French AP photographer Jean-Marc Bouju, shows a hooded Iraqi soldier imprisoned behind barbed wire comforting his son. At first glance the image may not be that striking, but the story behind it is.

A compassionate US soldier saw that when the Iraqi man was being arrested his son became upset, so he allowed the boy to accompany his father. His father was also released from his handcuffs while in custody.

Judges in the Amsterdam-based foundation's contest were swayed by the simple act of hope during the brutality of war. "Photojournalists have the power to show both the horrors of war and the compassion of humanity during war, we chose compassion," they said in an introduction to the work.

Conflicts in Iraq, Chechnya and Liberia along with the Bam earthquake figure most prominently in what some might find a shocking display.

But because the brutality of humanity figures so notably, visitors to the show will be soothed somewhat by the sounds of the gospel hymn Amazing Grace playing softly in the background. Purists may argue against it, but it does take the edge off things.

Palestinian lensman Ahmed Jadallah's close-up photo of a bomb blast victim was taken shortly before he himself passed out, due to a severed artery in his leg that he suffered in the same blast. After the explosion, he instinctively picked up his camera and shot the aftermath. He is still recovering from his wounds. His picture took first place in the news-singles category.

Exhibition note:

Exhibition note:

What: The Eslite bookstore gallery showcases the winners of one of the world's top photojournalism competitions from 2003.

When: The exhibit runs until May 30. Open daily from 11am to 10pm.

Where: B2, 245 Dunhua S Road, Sec 2, Taipei (台北市敦化南路2245)

Australian Philip Blenkinsop's photos of desperate Hmong guerillas, forgotten allies in the US' secret war in Laos, will remain largely forgotten. Only hundreds remain of the thousands who supported the US after it ended its involvement in the country.

Stellar LA Times photographer Carolyn Cole's beautiful yet haunting images again garnered multiple awards this year, including the Pulitzer.

Her stylized images of corpses in a Liberian mass grave were mistaken by one visitor for a fashion shot, the bodies sprinkled with lime wouldn't look out of place in a glamor magazine. Another moving composition was of a grieving Iraqi family who had three family members killed by US marines.

Russian photographer Yuri Kozyrev won for picturing the suffering in Iraq, which included one subtle pic of a man carrying an empty casket, obviously used before as it showed the stains of dried blood.

Once you get past all the war pictures, there are some gems that show the brighter side of humanity. Sports images range from a humorous shot of an upside-down French rugby player trapped hopelessly in a scrum to a fascinating look at a Colombian rodeo.

Elsewhere, Danish shooters have continued their strong tradition of stylized and contrast-heavy black-and-white reportage images. Newspapers there with their large budgets often send photographers to the world's trouble spots at a moment's notice. Erik Refner, who won the contest as a student two years ago with his image of an Afghan infant being prepared for burial, picked up awards in two different categories this year.

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