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February 13, 2012

Photo Awards Can Be Prospective, Too: POYi and Greece on Fire

This photo marks the intersection of two happenings, the paroxysm of violence and dispair over the austerity vote in Greece today and this season of photojournalism awards. For months, but in an escalated way over the past week, news photo galleries have been filled with pictures of rioters clashing with Greek police.

To demonstrate this horrible repetition (one which has played like distant background noise in the American press, at least), I was first going to post this photo which just won a Picture of the Year International award (first place in General News) by Yannis Kolesidis of Reuters.

Given much of the newswire imagery could almost be considered variations on a theme, Kolesidis’ photo could almost be seen as a template for the unending flow of rioter/riot cop images capturing the fury of a country victimized by international financiers abusing the derivative game at the global level.

Instead however, it seemed more fitting to highlight Angelos Tzortzinis’ photo, Greece in Crisis, which also won a POYi award, third place in the Spot News category. As opposed to the narrative of people versus the state, this photo of a policeman ignited by a Molotov cocktail expressing how much the country itself is engulfed in convulsion. Confirming that awareness, just look at the faces of the protesters suddenly horrified by this depth of consequences.

… And then, shockingly (talking about how a photo can seem like a template), today’s newswires are full of more Greek policeman on fire.

POYi Awards page

(photo: Angelos Tzortzinis caption: Moments after a fellow police officer rammed a protester with his motorbike, a riot policeman in flames tries to escape, after a petrol bomb was thrown on his helmet during riots in front of the Parliament in central Athens, Greece on 23 February 2011. During the year, Greece has been in the eye of this global economical storm. The immense Greek debt led the government to take immediate and cruel austerity measures targeting mostly the working middle class. Violence made its appearance in numerous protests in the Greek capital of Athens marked by clashes with riot police and left hundreds injured. This social unrest does not seem to calm down as there are no signs of a clear and optimistic future for the country and its people.)

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