Saturday, November 20, 2010

World Press Photo and Burning Trash

We've gone to the World Press Photo exhibition every year for a few years now. I couldn't make it to the exhibition in Osaka this summer - work kept me too busy - but it's a travelling exhibition so we caught it this weekend at the Ritsumeikan university exhibition hall in Kusatsu east of Kyoto.

It was good; overall I found it to be better than last year. The quality was more even, but I didn't really find any images that popped out and stood out above the rest. This was most obvious in the portrait section, which last year was much more interesting than now. It's almost as if the jury had gotten a lot of heat for its previous eclectic and none-too-flattering portrait selection and got a bit gun-shy this time around.

There were more graphic and violent images this time around - one sequence showing a stoning is pretty disturbing - but that may simply be a reflection of more truly distressing events this year than before. And none of the images strike me as exploitative or speculative; they really are well chosen as documentary images. It's been a good exhibition every year so far, and I can recommend you catch it if it comes to your area.

Trash fire

What's left of the trash heap after the fire and the fire brigade was through with it. Didn't get a shot of the fire itself; they didn't let people out on the street, and I wasn't too keen of going out in that smoke anyhow.

In other, not-very-notable news, a trash dumpster caught fire on the street outside last night. The trash collection round happens after midnight here, and apparently a dumpster truck had a fire start in its cargo just as it was passing by. The driver quite sensibly dumped the entire load on the street before the truck itself caught fire. So we had a quite large, very smelly pile of burning trash and a dozen firemen blocking the entire main road outside and sending the resulting smoke up into the building ventilation system. A smoke that, remember, was caused by rotting leftovers, soggy plastic and pet poo set ablaze. Imagine a cool, fresh early dawn in a dew-sprinkled pine forest, just as the summer sun is drying up the moisture. Then imagine the polar opposite. Makes you appreciate just how much worse Osaka air could be.

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