Sat, 05/21/2011 - 11:33
World Press Photo decided to close its exhibition in Beirut, Lebanon, on Friday, ten days in advance of the official closing date. The presence of prize-winning work by an Israeli photojournalist in the exhibition had sparked protests locally and the Beirut exhibition organizers felt they could no longer guarantee the safety of the visitors or the exhibit itself, if the pictures remained on display. World Press Photo does not accept that any photographs are removed from the presentation, and the decision was made to dismantle and close the entire exhibition.
The exhibition showcasing the prize-winning images in the 2011 World Press Photo contest had opened in Beirut on 12 May in the presence of hundreds of guests, including many local photographers and media, and was due to run until 1 June. The exhibition includes a series of photographs by Israeli photojournalist Amit Sha'al of street scenes in current-day Israel, juxtaposed with historic photographs of the same location. The series was awarded 3rd prize in the Arts and Entertainment category.
World Press Photo managing director Michiel Munneke said: "The integrity of our exhibition was at stake. Removing any prize-winning photos would come down to censorship, which for us is not acceptable. In this instance, closing the exhibition was the only way we could remain true to our principle of promoting freedom of information. We regret that we had no other choice and we hope that we will be able to bring our exhibition back to Lebanon soon again."
World Press Photo's mission is to support and promote the work of press photographers and stimulate freedom of expression on an international level. The World Press Photo Foundation, based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, operates independently without any political affiliations. The World Press Photo exhibition presents the awarded work of all the prizewinners in what is regarded the most prestigious annual photography contest for professional photojournalists in the world.
This year, 5,691 photographers from 125 countries participated in the World Press Photo contest with 108,059 photographs. An independent jury of international photography experts selected the prizewinning work in nine different categories, ranging from Sports to Portraits and from Nature to Spot News. Prizes were awarded to a total of 54 photographers representing 23 nationalities. The exhibition of the prize-winning work is currently on a world tour of 100 locations in 45 countries. Since the first World Press Photo exhibition was opened in Beirut in 1995, the annual edition has regularly been shown there and in other locations in Lebanon.
World Press Photo organizes the leading international contest in visual journalism. The foundation is committed to supporting and advancing high standards in photojournalism and documentary storytelling worldwide. Its aim is to generate wide public interest in and appreciation for the work of photographers and other visual journalists, and for the free exchange of information. The activities include organizing annual photojournalism and multimedia contests and global exhibition tours. The Academy programs strive to stimulate high-quality visual journalism through educational programs, grants and by creating greater visibility through a variety of publications. World Press Photo is an independent, non-profit organization with its office in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, where it was founded in 1955.
The press department at World Press Photo, or tel. +31(0)20 676 6096.