In its 58th year, the World Press Photo contest aims to highlight some of the work of leading photo journalists who use photography to uncover the truth behind current affairs. With 97,912 photographers taking part in the project, only 5,692 of the very best are showcased around the world. Maastricht joins cosmopolitan cities such as Amsterdam, Budapest and Copenhagen.
Along with Nissen's photograph, the images of winners in different categories are displayed. American photographer Darcy Padilla, who won first prize in the category Long-term Projects, aims with her photo-series 'Family Love' to highlight issues such as poverty, drug abuse and the drastic effects of HIV on her subject Julie Baird's life. Taken over eleven consecutive years, the black and white photographs show Julie's deteriorating health and its dramatic impact on her relationship with her children and partner.
The exhibition is one that undoubtedly captivates its audience. People are silent as they gaze at photographs of the downed MH17 wreckage, in which the body of a passenger lies in a field still strapped to his seat. Also, Massimo Sestini's bird's eye view of an overcrowded boat full of migrants, staring up at him, and Gianfranco Tripodo's coverage of a migrant hiding from the Guardia Civil in North Africa bring to light the desperation of the current refugee crisis. "I think it's important for people to understand exactly what is happening out there”, says 22 year-old psychology student Emily Somerville. “Photography is the best way to bring about emotion in people, and to stop them from hiding. It's easy to ignore written words, but when a picture is thrust in your face; well, it's difficult to forget what you saw.”
A selection of sport photography and nature photography is also shown, yet significantly lacks the attention of the viewers, whose interests undoubtedly lie in the more immediate, pressing issues going on in the world.