Picture convey a thousand deaths

Matthias Ritters

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“It is like a whole other world.”Rana PlazaA black man holds a woman in his embrace; both seem to be sleeping, covered by rubble. She wears a red shirt, with a stitched rose on it and her golden bracelet still shines through the dust. Strongly and safely the man holds her in his arms. A tear on his eye shows that even if he tried to be strong and brave for her, he was scared as well.

The photo of the dead bodies was taken on the day after the Rana Plaza building in Savar, Bangladesh, collapsed. More than 1100 garment workers were killed by the eight-story building on 24th April 2013. Now the World Press Photo exhibition presents this photo in Dublin, next to the other best press pictures of the world in 2013, pictures that are not just showing people and places, pictures that tell stories, pictures that evoke feelings, pictures that moves you close to the action.

The exhibition is running in the basement of the Irish Financial Services Centre (IFSC) in Dublin. The blanket is formed like a tunnel and the walls consist of red-brown bricks, that create a thrilling ambience. After entering the basement, five albino children stare at the visitors. All are dressed in pink shirts and blue jeans.

Questions come to your mind: Who are those children? What is this about? The questions are answered by short descriptions next to the picture, which explain the circumstances. In this case, the photo was taken by Brent Stirton in South Africa and the five children are blind albino students from a boarding school in West Bengal, India.

Tamar Ravelli, exhibitions manager of the World Press Photo exhibition, is proud to present the best press world pictures: “It is the most ambitious photo exhibition in the world. We got about 100,000 entries from almost 6,000 photographers.”

But not all these pictures are easy to look at. As early as looking at just a few pictures, you ask yourself where the ethical boundary is. People who are looking at the pictures, are moved in an emotional way. “I feel really sad. It is like a whole other world,” said a visitor, almost with tears in her eyes, pointing at a picture by Christopher Vanegas. There are two dead bodies hanging on ropes in a tunnel. Three more are lying dead on the ground. Their bodies are wrapped with some kind of paper.

It is a message by crime groups and drug cartels in Mexico. “That is an awful image of their bodies hanging.” Ms. Ravelli explains that it is important to “let people know what is happening,” even if it is so shocking.

Beyond the best 150 pictures a jury also elected one picture as “world press photo”: Eight people are standing in the deep of the night near to the sea and holding their mobile phones to the sky. Again this pictures inspires us to think about what is happening there. What this exactly is, the exhibition explains.

Visitors who are interested can go there until 15th November. The exhibition moves all around the world and will come back to Ireland at 18th November for six days to Belfast.

It is a perfect opportunity to see reality in an uncensored and emotional way, which also brings tears to the eyes of one particular visitor: “If you see these pictures, you will comprehend it is true. It is reality – and this is so shocking.”

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Matthias Ritters