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The World Press Photo Foundation and the European Parliament present a selection of photographs, awarded World Press Photo of the Year from 1955 to 2022, that captured some of the most defining moments in recent history.
The collection, including Charlie Cole’s picture of Tiananmen Square and John Moore’s image of Honduran toddler Yanela Sanchez, highlights issues such as the hope and resilience of protesters, migration, resistance against racism, or the human cost of conflict, and shows how important photojournalism is in shaping our collective memory and creating mutual understanding. Major world events in the years the photographs were taken are outlined to provide context and invite the viewer to reflect on the past, present, and future.
Visual stories, documented by multiple voices, play an important role in understanding the world’s most significant issues. Press freedom, a foundation of democratic societies, enabled these visual stories to be published. Yet, in many parts of the world, this right is oppressed or under threat and cannot be taken for granted. Supporting the conditions for press freedom is a fundamental part of the World Press Photo Foundation’s and the European Parliament’s work.

The photography exhibition, coupled with the “Iconic” event series, encourages audiences to reflect on the importance of press freedom in today’s media climate.

On 22 September, the European Parliament will launch a series of events under the ICONIC banner to complement the photo exhibition curated by The World Press Photo Foundation. These events feature guided tours, talks, and panel discussions around press freedom, freedom of expression, and safety for journalists.

The first event in this series explores one of the exhibition themes in detail: How does an iconic image contribute to defending democracy?

Two award-winning photojournalists, Pietro Masturzo and Jodi Bieber, will be present at this event. They will reflect on the exhibited work that has won them a Photo of the Year Award, and the importance of an independent press to democracies.

President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola, said:

“Protecting and supporting journalists is at the heart of European democracy. Europe draws its strength from its democracy. And, we know that there can be no democracy without freedom of the press. This timely exhibition invites us to reflect on the importance of the fourth pillar of our Democracy.”

Joumana El Zein Khoury, Executive Director of World Press Photo Foundation, said:

“We are pleased to curate this special exhibition and to organise the ICONIC events for the European Parliament, presenting some of the most defining moments in our human history. We believe that by opening windows to different and diverse places and voices, we create deeper understanding and connections between people from around the world. We hope this exhibition will ignite conversations about our shared values, and visitors will join us in our mission to support the conditions needed to make democracy work.”

Pietro Masturzo, 2010 Photo of the Year winner, said:

“As a photographer and especially as a European citizen, I am sincerely honoured to be part of this ICONIC exhibition, in a place so central and important in the fight for human rights and Inclusion.”

“Freedom of expression and the right to free information are the very basis of democracy. Photojournalism has the role and the responsibility of defending and fighting for these rights. I strongly believe that a good photograph can raise questions, awaken a person’s conscience, and lead to action in defence of universally recognised human rights.”

Mastruzo’s award-winning photo documented women shouting their dissent from a Tehran rooftop following Iran’s disputed presidential elections, in 2009.

Jodi Bieber, 2011 Photo of the Year in 2011 winner, said:

“I am specifically glad to participate in this ICONIC exhibition due to the significance of the space in Brussels itself, and because the general nature of imagery today is that it is consumed so quickly and forgotten equally fast due to social media.”

“This exhibition opens the space for viewers to engage with, and contemplate in their own time, these important historic moments. For me personally, as a woman, it is important to keep attention on the issue of violence against women. Photography can be used as a catalyst to promote change in policy, shift contrasting ideas, and even occasionally change someone’s life.” she added.

Bieber’s photo of Bibi Aisha, an 18-year-old woman disfigured as retribution for fleeing her husband’s house in Uruzgan province, in the center of Afghanistan, asks us to reflect on the power of images and the whether or not who takes the photo matters.

Practical information event:

  • When: Thursday 22 September 2022, 15:00 – 16:00
  • Where: Info Hub, European Parliament, Esplanade Solidarność 1980, behind Place du Luxembourg, 1050 Brussels, Belgium, next to SPINELLI building
  • Access: registration is recommended, as places are limited. Register here

Opening Hours exhibition:

  • Monday – Friday: 9.00 – 18.00
  • Saturday – Sunday 10.00 – 18.00
  • Free entrance
  • Tours: exhibition material and daily ICONIC guided tours are available in French, Dutch, English, and German. Bookings are required for groups of 10+

Event location

Esplanade Solidarność 1980
B-1050 Brussels

Visiting hours

Monday to Friday: 09.00 – 17.30
Saturday and Sunday: 10.00 – 17.30


Free admission

Images credits :

Announcement image: Charlie Cole, Newsweek

Image in explainer:  Douglas Martin, The Charlotte News / The Associate

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