Who doesn’t know the picture of a man standing in front of a tank at the Tiananmen Square or the one showing a little girl running away after a napalm attack in Vietnam? Both of these photos where once winning contributions at the annual World Press Photo contest.
World Press Photo is a Dutch non-profit organization, based in Amsterdam, founded in 1955. It is an independent organization, but one that often finds the Dutch government on its side as it strongly defends press freedom.
The World Press Photo exhibition has evolved into the world’s most popular photo event and organizes over a 100 local exhibitions of its price-winning photos every year. Currently, 10 identical exhibitions are held, from Edinburgh to Osaka and also in Istanbul.
August 11th I attended the opening of the World Press Photo exhibition in Istanbul for the 3rd year in a row. The exhibition was set up in the big and shiny Forum Istanbul shopping Centre, making it accessible for 1.000’s of visitors daily.
The World Press exhibitions are about visual storytelling. These are both beautiful stories about nature, sport, happy people or scientific discoveries, but also about incidents that show the dark side of human nature. This year the exhibition includes intense photos of the MH17 crash and Syria.
As every year, the 2015 exhibition is impressive and relevant . This would not have been possible without journalists and photographers going to extremes, often even risking their lives. For some years now, the World Press Photo Exhibition in Turkey is supported by the Dutch Government as World Press Photo is a partner in promoting the important human right of press freedom. Defending and promoting human rights is one of the fundaments of the Dutch Foreign Policy and had been for centuries. When Cornelis Haga, the first Dutch ambassador to Constantinopel (1612) started, he had two main tasks: freeing Christian slaves and concluding economic agreements. In the 21st century we call this ‘human rights’ and ‘economic diplomacy’. As a Dutch diplomat it reassures me that we have some constants in our foreign policyJ.
At the opening, I met Turkish photographer Bülent Kılıç, who took two price winning photos. One of them shows a young girl, who was wounded in a clash near Taksim square (see above). The other one an airstrike on IS fighters in Kobani. A free press is a human right, of great importance for society and economy. We are happy to work together with World Press Photo here in Turkey and will definitely support the exhibition again next year. Hopefully a second exhibition in Ankara can be realized by then!
The photos will be exhibited in Istanbul till September 2nd. Easy to combine a visit with some shopping but also a must see destination on its own.