The World Press Photo winner last year made me wonder whether the competition is moving towards a new phase, less political, less charged and beautifying drama a bit less. This year’s winning photo confuses me completely. Not because it’s not so political and not so filled with connotations as the previous winners, but because the photo doesn’t speak for itself at all. Without reading a caption and without reading about why it was chosen, it is just an artistic portrayal of two people doing something, not really clear what. The photo is part of a larger project called Homophobia in Russia and I bet that when seen in context it does makes sense. But by itself, it doesn’t say much. Besides this, for the first time in the history of the competition, I look at the winner and don’t even see the ‘press’ in World Press Photo.
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Belarus is one of those places in which the smell and the air of the Soviet Union is still alive, safe and sound. And Rafal Milach‘s photo series portraying Belarusian winners of the most ridiculous prizes you can imagine, is the perfect example of that. As you can see, the regime awards the working class and the people supporting the regime. More important: it awards the loyal and the good citizen all around the country, in kolkhozes, schools, nightclubs and village discos. The winners receive a state diploma which must be a great status boost in a country in which facade and prestige mean the world.