When not everything is orchestrated

World Press Photo is one of those places where the agenda setting can be clearly seen. For better or for worse. This concept of agenda, which in the first place could be seen as a good thing for logical reasons, for organization and hierarquization of what happens to us, gets a different meaning with a certain perspective. Basic documentation is essential. A professional that interviews somebody without previously documenting him or herself can be what they want, but are not journalists. At the same time, if one wants to be the first advancing some information, anticipation is required. It’s in the books, that’s how is taught in journalism schools. 

All this language, implicit and unknown for the sporadic consumers of information, goes unnoticed before the sea of pictures that flood the dark corridors of CCCB. In the midst of it all, I, educated in media, immediately think: “we’re being exposed to the world, to the atrocities we do (or let others do) in the world. And it’s dated”. We’re an entangled mass of heads in front of each small universe hanging in these walls. “Journalists lie”. Another popular motto that I cannot escape of when seeing the pictures of the hell that Venezuela has become, as the media close to the american establishment tries so hard to push in our public imagination.

And, at some point, I find the exception in a coverture of what appears to be the main topic of this edition: the Mexican odyssey of the migrant caravan, as captured by the lens of Pieter Ten Hoopen. I saw it in the beginning without paying too much attention, but I return before leaving the place. My intention was to see it while sit down, calmed, but the flow of the visitors is untiring. I stand up and get closer to the desired section. 

I see lots of remarkable things, as with every group of images. “Obviously, the pictures have quality, it’s a famous contest”, I tell myself. However, one thing stands out of Hoopen’s pictures: there is no pose (or doesn’t appear to be) in his images. They’re not staged. The photographed retain their individuality intact, they have freedom to do whatever they need in order to get what they want. Sometimes crying, sometimes anxious, other times simply coming together to get some rest or going on their own to get a small “souvenir” that remembers them their experience…

2019 Photo Contest, World Press Photo Story of the Year, Stories “The migrant caravan”, Pieter Ten Hoopen.

The same happens with the parents shown by Pedro Pardo’s lens. Yeah, those ones, those trying to get their kid through the dusty and spiky fence that, as we can see in perspective, is more fragile that it appears. Or like the american migrant seated in front of a gate while his partners are trying to sleep in the floor. Through all those images we don’t see objects, we see subjects. All are people, being them women or men, kids or adults, with the dignity to break their role of victims. We don’t see them quiet, in full agony, as symbols of a situation that calls for our solidarity as social justice warriors or well-meant europeans. Actually it’s pretty much the opposite, they’re breaking the walls we allowed our parliaments to build.

“Climbing the border fence”, Pedro Pardo. World Press Photo 2019. 2019 Photo Contest, Spot News, Singles, 3rd Prize

 

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