French photographer Bénédicte Kurzen and Belgian photographer Sanne De Wilde, who together won the First Prize in the Portraits (Stories) category, and Whitney C. Johnson, World Press Photo 2019 jury chair and vice president, Visuals and Immersive Experiences at National Geographic, will be in Montreal to kick off the next edition of the World Press Photo Montreal exhibition, which will take place from August 28 to September 29, 2019 at Bonsecours Market. All three will take part in many events as well as public, professional and school activities.

A first in the history of the World Press Photo

Bénédicte Kurzen and Sanne De Wilde are the first photographers in the history of the World Press Photo to co-sign a series awarded a First Prize in the Portraits category, for their story entitled Land of Ibeji.

Nigeria has one of the highest occurrences of twins in the world, particularly among the Yoruba people in the southwest. In the town of Igbo-Ora, dubbed ‘The Nation’s Home of Twins,’ reportedly almost every family has at least one set. Communities have developed different cultural practices in response to this high birth rate, from veneration to demonization.

Bénédicte Kurzen

The photographic career of Bénédicte Kurzen (France) began in Israel in 2003. She then moved to Johannesburg in 2005, where she co-founded Eve Photographers, a collective of women photographers.

Over a decade, she documented a number of conflicts and socio-economic changes in Africa. She produced the Next of Kin, The Boers Last Stand and Amaqabane series, about the lives of anti-apartheid veterans. In 2011, she won a Pulitzer Center grant, which allowed her to produce a project about Nigeria entitled A Nation Lost to Gods. Her photographs were presented at Visa pour l'Image, where she was nominated for the 2012 Visa d'Or. A member of the NOOR photo agency since 2012, she moved to Lagos that same year, where she continued to cover stories about Africa and Nigeria, in addition to serving as a senior lecturer in journalism at the American University of Nigeria. Alongside Sanne De Wilde, she won the First Prize at the 2019 World Press Photo in the Portraits (Stories) category.

Sanne De Wilde

A graduate of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts (KASK) in Ghent, Belgian photographer Sanne De Wilde explores the role genetics play and how this shapes and affects communities. Her series The Dwarf Empire was rewarded with the Photo Academy Award 2012 as well as the International Photography Award Emergentes DST in 2013. Her series Samoa Kekea, which addresses albinism in Samoa, received the Nikon Press Award in 2014, in the Most Promising Young Photographer category. The British Journal of Photography selected De Wilde as one of ‘the best emerging talents from around the world’. She recently received the Firecracker Grant 2016, the PHmuseum Women Photographers Grant and the de Zilveren Camera award for her series The Island of the Colorblind.

Her work has been internationally published (The Guardian, The New Yorker, Le Monde, CNN and Vogue) and exhibited (Voies OFF, Tribeca Film Festival, Circulations, Lagos Photo, Lodz Fotofestiwal, IDFA, STAM and EYE). Since 2013, she has worked with the Dutch newspaper and magazine De Volkskrant in Amsterdam, and she joined the NOOR photo agency in 2017. Alongside Bénédicte Kurzen, she won the First Prize at the 2019 World Press Photo in the Portraits (Stories) category.

Whitney C. Johnson

Whitney C. Johnson is vice president, Visuals and Immersive Experiences at National Geographic, where she oversees digital photography, video and immersive experiences, after having served as deputy director of photography for the same publication. Her work has been recognized by Pictures of the Year International, the Society of Publication Designers and the Webbys.

Prior to joining National Geographic, she was the director of photography at The New Yorker, where she oversaw the photo section for a variety of platforms, in addition to launching the publication’s Instagram account. Her work has earned her two Ellies, which are given out by the American Society of Magazine Editors, many Awards of Excellence from the Society of Publication Designers and a Peabody award. Whitney C. Johnson chaired the 2019 World Press Photo jury.

Actress and filmmaker Monia Chokri as spokesperson for the World Press Photo Montreal exhibition

In late May, the World Press Photo Montreal exhibition team announced the name of its 2019 spokesperson: actress and filmmaker Monia Chokri. Her first feature film, A Brother’s Love (French title: La femme de mon frère), which she wrote and directed, was presented in May 2019 as the opening film for the Cannes Festival’s Un Certain Regard section. After taking home the jury’s Coup de coeur award, the film was released theatrically in Quebec on June 7th.

The 2019 edition of the World Press Photo Montreal exhibition will be presented at Bonsecours Market from August 28 to September 29. Often dubbed the Oscars of photojournalism, the World Press Photo is the most prestigious press photography contest on the planet. In 2019, the prizewinning images are divided into eight categories: Spot News, General News, Contemporary News, People, Environment, Nature, Sports and Long-Term Projects.

— World Press Photo Montreal exhibition

— AB

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