© Samuel Aranda, Oct. 15, 2011, Sanaa / Yemen

Winner of this year’s World Press Photo Award

Aranda’s winning image shows a woman holding a wounded relative in her arms, inside a mosque used as a field hospital by demonstrators against the rule of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, during clashes in Sanaa. Samuel Aranda was working in Yemen on assignment for The New York Times. He is represented by Corbis Images.

"I think it’s really important when you receive such an award to remember that all of this work is for the people we’re documenting," he says. "What I would really like is for this photo to help the people of Yemen. I think it’s a country that is often forgotten." (Samuel Aranda)

Does the winning image reference Michelangelo’s Pietà?

"There’s been discussions about connections between Samuel Aranda’s image and the Pietà,” admits jury member Nina Berman. "I was a big supporter of this image and I think it’s fantastic that Christian audiences can connect in a way that is compassionate and not prejudicial with the Muslim world," she tells BJP. "And if they have to do it through their own Christian icons, then fine. That’s what art is for."

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  © Michelangelo (Buonarroti), 1498-1499, Pietà, St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican

For Koyo Kouoh, the founder and artistic director Raw Material Company, it’s normal that Aranda’s image would refer us to Michelangelo’s Pietà. "The image of the pieta is something imprinted in human DNA," he says. "It is something that is always inside us. And I don’t think [it was intentional]. Maybe afterwards there is a lot of reading and interpretation of the image but I don’t think he was pushing to make that reference. He just captured a moment."

Aranda confirms that fact to BJP. “It was not intentional. You know how it is in these situations - it was really tense and chaotic. In these situations, you just shoot photos. It is what it is. We’re just photographers. I consider myself just a worker. I just witness what is going on in front of me, and shoots photos. That’s it.”

(read the whole interview with Samuel Aranda here; read more here, here, here and here)

I wonder if there was a similar discussion about William Eugene Smiths’ photo 'Tomoko Uemura in Her Bath':

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© William Eugene Smith, 1972, Tomoko Uemura in Her Bath, Minamata

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