The Big Issue : Edition 479
THEBIGISSUE6–19MAR2015 27 RIGHT ABOVE A DAMAGED KITCHEN IN DOWNTOWN DONETSK, UKRAINE PHOTOGRAPH BY SERGEI ILNITSKY (RUSSIA) RIGHT CENTRE SCHOOL UNIFORMS BELONGING TO THREE OF THE MISSING GIRLS WHO WERE KIDNAPPED BY BOKO HARAM, AN ISLAMIC TERRORIST GROUP, NIGERIA PHOTOGRAPH BY GLENNA GORDON (US) RIGHT BELOW ARGENTINA’S LIONEL MESSI AT THE 2014 FIFA WORLD CUP IN BRAZIL PHOTOGRAPH BY BAO TAILIANG (CHINA) LEFT ABOVE AN ORTHODOX PRIEST BLESSES PROTESTERS ON A BARRICADE IN KIEV, UKRAINE PHOTOGRAPH BY JEROME SESSINI (FRANCE) LEFT BELOW AMERICAN FOOTBALL GAME IN NEW JERSEY PHOTOGRAPH BY AL BELLO (US) IN JULY LAST year, eyes from all over the world turned to a country in Eastern Europe. Certainly for many Australians, Ukraine was not a place that had been given much thought. But when Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down with passengers from many different countries (including Australia) on board, the ongoing and brutal conflict in the region suddenly became everyone’s business. For 60 years the World Press Photo Contest has not only highlighted remarkable photographs from the year just past, it has provided a striking summary of the things – both thrilling and terrible – that captured the world’s attention. Gazing at the contest’s collection of significant moments, it is clear this year is no different. There are compelling photos from all over the globe, but a few issues garner more focus. The conflict in Ukraine is a subject that features frequently. There are photographs powerful in what is not shown, but inferred: smashed glass on a coffee table, a curtain with fringes soaked in blood. Then there are those so clear it’s hard to look away: a passenger from MH17 on a plane seat in a field, looking almost like they have just lain down for a rest. One particularly arresting photo shows a growing ramification of conflict. But it’s an image that takes some time to process. At first glance, it appears to depict a blue boat covered in spots of happy colour, afloat on sparkling water. Then the realisation dawns: these spots of colour are people. Asylum seekers, crammed onto an Italian rescue boat on the Mediterranean Sea after their vessel has been shipwrecked. In Australia, the treatment of refugees at sea has been heavily politicised and debated. But this is something occurring worldwide, on a scale that can be difficult to fathom. The photos in this competition do capture important moments of 2014. But more importantly, they give a human quality to issues that can be complex, far away and difficult to comprehend. Sometimes the effect is stirring and hopeful; sometimes it’s exciting or amusing (a one-handed catch by New York Giants’ footballer Odell Beckham Jr (left); Argentina’s Lionel Messi hungrily eyeing the FIFA World Cup at last year’s final). And sometimes, like the photo of school dresses belonging to the young girls kidnapped by Boko Haram in Nigeria, it is just devastating. by Katherine Smyrk » Visit worldpressphoto.org.