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An Interview with World Press Photo of the Year Winner Ronaldo Schemidt

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Linh Dinh / Staff Photographer

Friday the 13th of April, the World Press Photo exhibition was officially kicked off in the Nieuwe Kerk on the Dam in Amsterdam with at the center of attention the winner of this year’s World Press Photo of the year, 47-year old Venezuelan photographer Ronaldo Schemidt. His photo featuring a man named José Victor Salazar Balza, who caught fire because of an exploded motorcycle in the middle of violent clashes between protesters against the ruling President Nicolás Maduro and the police in Caracas, Venezuela. The Amsterdammer got a chance to talk to the man of the hour about his work as a photographer in Venezuela and his opinion on winning this prestigious award. 

First of all, congratulations on winning the award. Was there ever a moment you thought this photo might be a prize-winning photo?

When I was taking this picture at the time, I was not thinking about the possibility of this picture ever ending up in a contest such as this one. It is something you can not think about when taking pictures in these kinds of situations. In those moments, all you should do is focus on your work.

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Linh Dinh / Staff Photographer

The jury took into consideration the fact that the man in this picture is wearing some sort of mask, which, according to them, represents the facelessness of the events in Venezuela. It is not just one man burning, the whole country has been set aflame. Is this something you think of when looking at the picture? 

No, not at all. The impression I have of this photo is still the same. All I feel when looking at this picture again is compassion for the man in the picture. I still feel sorry for the horrible tragedy he suffered and the indescribable pain he must have gone through. The mask in itself does not add much for me, the fire and the unbearable pain it inflicts attracts all my attention every single time I look at this image. Therefore, I am very glad that I have been able to come into contact with the man in this picture a few days after taking the picture to find out if he is still alive.

How is he doing?

Just after the explosion, he was taken care of by some paramedics, who took him to the hospital. As expected, he has suffered quite a bit from the events of that night. He suffered first and second degree burns all over his body but did luckily survive the fire.

The situation at the riots that night was critical and you had to put yourself in danger to take this picture. Would you consider this a regular part of the job?

I acknowledge that I sometimes find myself in dangerous situations, but this only usually happens after the fact when I am reviewing the pictures I took. In the heat of the moment, I just want to do my job as a news photographer as good as possible. I still feel the same way about this and will want to continue to do work as a photographer in Venezuela, I just don’t know if Maduro’s government will let me.

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Linh Dinh / Staff Photographer

 

Metro reporter, Spring 2018

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IDD 2018: “We have a lot of great artists from different areas, so we want people to see it and enjoy it as well.”

Attendees look at the display of all visual art projects done by different artists at CREA.  Andrea Rossignoli / Staff Photographer

From April 6th to April 7th, the Cultural Student-Center, or CREA, hosted the art festival “In De Diamantfabriek” at the Roeterseiland-Campus. IDD is a special art festival which offers opportunities for young talents in Amsterdam to present their art works. The festival included multiple areas of art such as dance, music, visual arts and spoken words, which enabled the visitors to experience new perspectives and fresh ideas about art.

On the final day of the festival, special occasions such as  all organizational board members visited the event. Promotion Coordinator Kenza Cruden was one of them. The 22-year old UvA European-Studies student told The Amsterdammer her motivation and thoughts about the art festival.

22-year-old UvA student, Kenza Cruden, poses for a portrait during the IDD event organized by CREA. Cruden is the Promotion Coordinator of the event, and took this opportunity to explore cultural and fine arts, which she has a deep interest in. Andrea Rossignoli / Staff Photographer

What exactly is your job as the Promotion Coordinator?

Oh it’s actually a lot. It’s a lot more than I actually expected during the interview for getting this position. For this event, we as the board members had to put between 22 and 30 hours of work per week. My job as the Promotion Coordinator is related to all commercials you can see and you cannot see. So basically, I mean offline and online commercials about the art festival, such as posters, flyers and websites.

How did you decide to apply yourself for the position of Promotion Coordinator? Was there any particular reason?

Well I always thought about doing something related to culture during my student life. So I applied for this place and got it! It’s not that I planned to something in promotion. It was more the case that I wished to be active in Cultural Field, and I looked for a place to start with that.

You mentioned that you want to be active in Cultural Field, are you interested in arts as well? Is there any specific type of art you prefer?

I think I like the literature art because it really shows the interaction with the culture. The words which are used, and the way how they are used, are the reflection of different cultures. And I also like photography, which is a big part of this festival as well. 

As the last question: Do you want to achieve something particular by promoting this art festival?

This year, we really wish to gain more popularity of this event and just get as many people as possible. We have a lot of great artists from different areas, so we want people to see it and enjoy it as well.

Thank you for the interview, Kenza.

You’re welcome.

Avenue reporter, Spring 2018