Dupont Underground: World Press Photo, 2017

We were able to attend the press preview for the new openly World Press Photo exhibition at the Dupont Underground, which officially kicks off from November 4th to November 26th.

Many people have heard of the Dupont underground, but only a surprising few have actually travelled down to this trolley tunnel, first opened in 1949. Their goal is to “foster programming that encourages the public to create and engage with the leading edge of contemporary expression in  the visual, environmental, and performing arts.” One way they are doing this is through hosting exhibitions like World Press Photo. World Press Photo comprises of 5+ decades of important, visual stories.

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The exhibition, and by extension, World Press Photo, works to elevate freedom of expression, freedom of speech, and freedom of press as indispensable parts of our culture. They do this by promoting visual journalism and storytelling about the world’s most vibrant problems.

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The photographs on display cover contemporary issues from around the world – from sports to immigration to child brides to political issues around the world. While walking through the curved exhibition space it is hard not to stop and stare at each photo. One of the most captivating is the very first:  “Taking a Stand in Baton Rogue” by Jonathan Bachman.

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This was the winning photo for  singles, in the contemporary issues category and it speaks volumes without saying…well, anything. Bachman was in Baton Rogue that Saturday in July covering the very first protest of his career and little did he know he would be taking one of the defining images of the Black Lives Matter rallies. The young woman in that photo is Ieisha Evans, and she stood calmly as two police in full riot gear confronted her aggressively, ready to arrest her. She would be released later that evening.

This photo is just one of the many photos that asks pointed questions about important issues going on across the world. And it is important that these photos be on display in DC right now. Why? Because in a country torn apart by a president that can’t stop tweeting, two political parties going at the jugular, and everything in between these photos can unite the right, left, and center because they can all agree on one thing: the injustices in these photos are real…and we need to do something to stop them.

The gallery I was drawn to the most was the series “Too Young to Wed” by Stephanie Sinclair, a wonderful photographer who I had the pleasure of meeting and listening to during a brief speech at the press show. Too Young to Wed showcases visual stories of young girls forced to wed too young – girls as young as 6 marrying men 3x their age, girls who set themselves on fire to escape the dreadful fates, and the horrible fates that so many young girls are forced to suffer through. These photos, although sometimes intense and hard to look at for too long, tells a visual story that demands action and end to child marriage. You can learn more about Too Young to Wed here.

The photographs in the exhibition cover everything from contemporary issues and general news to nature and sport. The images will be thought provoking and confrontational as well as beautiful. Some news photography will be graphic and may not be appropriate, especially for younger viewers.

The overall winning photo of this year was “Assassination in Turkey was the Photo of the Year” which you can view the series of images here.

One of our favorite aspects of the Dupont Underground is their mission to exhibit “work that might not be an easy fit in the District’s more  conventional cultural venues.”

To learn more or get tickets, click here.