22nd June- 29th August
Opening hours: Daily 11am- 8pm
Admission: Adults 10,000 won
The Pulitzer Prize was one of these names that I was aware of, but not exactly sure what it was. Well, it’s an annual US competition for journalism, literature and music, founded in 1917. The photography category was added in 1942, and the current exhibition, Capture The Moment: Pulitzer Prize Photographs, at Seoul Arts Centre, consists of 145 pieces of award winning photo journalism from 1942 up to the present day.
The photographs have been arranged in chronological order and grouped into decades. They portray a selection of some of the most defining moments in recent world history; some familiar, some not so. They take us from picket lines of the 40‘s to Obama delivering a speech just last year. They show iconic sporting heroes such as Babe Ruth. Acts of human compassion are portrayed in various rescue scenes subsequent t flooding and war. However, they most vividly detail acts of extreme violence mankind inflicts on one another; images we are sadly all too familiar with. Assassinations, assassination attempts and murders abound; Castro, Asanumo Yasushi Nagao, Harvey Oswald to name but a few. Then there’s the scores of nameless soldiers, guerillas, tear streaked and and angry civillians from all corners of the world in between.
I had no idea as to the context of a number of pictures, but some were very familiar, for example, soldiers embracing families upon their return after war. There are a number of infamous photographs taken during the Vietnam war and of course, everyone recognises the horrific images of the burning Twin Towers.
Each picture has it’s own unique story to tell and the talent and dedication put in by the photographers shines through as remarkable. The shocking nature of these pictures is the reason that they are in this exhibition, making it a hard going experience. It took me a long time to take it all in.
Unfortunately, I feel that there are aspects which let it down. The setting for these images should be sharp and clean, not the uninspiring grey that it is, which detracts from the photographs themselves. I do not expect everything to be translated into English, but there are no translations for any of the details on the photographs, and no English audio guides. This means that foreign English speaking visitors have to attempt deciphering what’s going on in the picture by the title alone. I find this frustracting as it’s an American exhibition. Furthermore, Seoul Arts Centre is one of the most prestigious arts spaces in Korea which surely attracts a high volume of foreign visitors.
Oh dear, I don’t like to moan. The collection of photos is truly incredible and as a whole, very humbling. I was confronted with images which punched me in the stomach and made me well up; it’s easy to forget the chaos of the world as I go about my daily routine. But thankfully the photographers behind these pictures haven’t forgotten, and in some cases, have even put their lives on the line to bring these photos to the world. I just feel cheated that I was left wondering the stories behind each one.