In the midst of luxury brands, expensive dining and luxurious hotel rooms, sits a photo of a bloodied child. A four-year-old innocently asks her mother why there was blood all over the child.
Ready or not, the “Oscars of Photojournalism” arrived in Singapore and found lodging at its most prestigious Raffles Hotel. This is the 2013 tour’s last stop on its trip around the world.
According to the World Press Photo Asia web site, “out of 103,481 submitted pictures taken by 5,666 photographers from 124 nationalities 154 winning photos were selected taken by 54 photographers representing 33 nationalities.”
The winning photographs were part of the exhibition.
“It was difficult to find sponsors,” said one of the organizers Katharina Holtslag. She thumbed through the World Press Photo book, then slowed down as she moved through the “heavy stuff”.
“That doesn’t appear in Singapore,” she said referring to potential sponsors’ comments when they saw those pictures as they declined to be a part of the exhibition.
Katharina and her team worked for eight months to bring the exhibition to Singapore’s shores. She said the exhibition had previously made appearances in 2003, 2006 and almost happened in 2008 but was cancelled due to lack of funding.
She used to drop by the World Press Photo exhibition whenever she could when she was in her home country of Holland and thought it would be great to bring it to the island nation where imagery of pristine clean streets, orderly conduct and personal security are plentiful.
Katharina Holtslag, Organizer
I strongly believe in the World Press Photo. Stuff the world has to see.
“Singapore is this happy bubble of happiness but this is reality,” she said. “I strongly believe in the World Press Photo. Stuff the world has to see.”
While sponsors were hesitant about being associated with the show’s content, some local individuals seemed more open to viewing the pictures.
It was Sharon Ng’s first time viewing the photographs. She thought it was great to educate Singaporeans about events unfolding in the rest of the world. She felt that the exhibition would encourage Singaporeans to pay more attention to the issues since its “not something Singaporeans are exposed to every day.”
“[We] start to appreciate some of the things we have,” she said. “Perhaps it’s not the same in other parts of the world.”
Another gentleman, who wished to be known as Loke, agreed.
“We can see that the world is different, different situation,” said Loke. “It’s a fact, gives a real sense of what happens in the world.”
He too was a photographer and felt motivated to take similar photographs if he was given the opportunity.
Sharon’s four-year-old daughter Keira pointed at the photograph of a bloodied child, a casualty of the Syrian civil war, and asked Sharon why there was blood all over the child’s face.
“I find it difficult to explain, if it’s another child in the picture,” said Sharon.
She noticed the look of concern on Keira’s face and decided against telling her the truth.
“It’s not something Singaporean kids are exposed to,” said Sharon. “I just told her he had a very bad fall.”
“Every time I get exposed to this it gives me a depressed feeling,” she added.
Over 2,000 people showed up to this exhibition on the first day, though around half of them looked like tourists.
The World Press Photo exhibit runs until the end if March 2014 at the Raffles Hotel in Singapore.
To find the exhibition, enter through the main entrance and take the left path to the back of the hotel. Head towards Luis Vutton and you will see a staircase on your left to head upstairs. The exhibition is on the second floor.
Did you visit the World Press Photo exhibition? Tell us what you felt about seeing the images and if and how they might have moved you.