The COVID-19 outbreak caught everyone by surprise by striking over 210 countries and regions this year, affecting more than seven billion people and claiming more than 400,000 lives (as of June 21, 2020). The spread of the virus respects neither borders nor races. Solidarity and cooperation are the most powerful weapons against the COVID-19 pandemic that spreads worldwide and causes enormous threats to people’s lives.
On June 29, 2020, the online photography exhibition “Zooming in on COVID-19: Unforgettable Moments in the Global Fight Against the Pandemic” opened in Beijing. This online exhibition, fueled by new media and modern technologies, provides a multi-lingual and multi-terminal viewing experience to global audiences.
Du Zhanyuan, president of China International Publishing Group (CIPG), and Li Qianguang, member of the Party Leadership Group and vice president of the China Federation of Literary and Art Circles (CFLAC), delivered speeches at the opening ceremony. Pavel Negoitsa, president of Russian newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta, Franco Gallo, president of the Istituto dell’Enciclopedia Italiana Treccani in Italy, Yang Kyuhyun, editor-in-chief of Aju News Corporation in South Korea, and José Luis Uribe, president of the Club Primera Plana in Mexico, gave speeches over the internet.
“At present, the pandemic is still ravaging the world, causing unprecedented disruptions to the global economy and people’s everyday lives,” said CIPG President Du Zhanyuan in his address. “However, although people are now practicing social distancing to contain the virus, their hearts are always united and close to each other. The battle against the invisible enemy is a common struggle facing all human beings. Fighting the virus calls for joint efforts from governments of all countries as well as great support and wide participation of media outlets and cultural institutions. From the very beginning, CIPG’s proposal to launch an online photo exhibition on the fight against COVID-19 was warmly welcomed by a number of related agencies in many countries. In no time, we began to receive active responses and massive support. This move itself shows people’s attitudes, choices, and actions in the face of the pandemic, as both witnesses and keepers of the memories of this special time. It depicts the mutual support, solidarity and cooperation of human society during the pandemic.”
“A true portrayal of the battle against the pandemic, the exhibition presents works of more than 100 photographers from 27 countries,” he revealed. “These carefully selected works are not merely documentation through images, but also exhibits of high artistry and philosophical profundity. They capture the valuable moments beyond the limits of time and space, and reveal the brilliance of humanity demonstrated by individuals amid the crisis and the concerted action of all governments to protect people’s lives and scientifically prevent and control the disease.”
“These touching stories about the tenacious fight against the coronavirus show the determination of human beings in the face of difficulties and their common choice of unity, cooperation, perseverance and unconditional love. We firmly believe that unity will bring strength, cooperation will create opportunities, perseverance will build confidence, and unconditional love will spark hope,” Du added.
“Photography is a universal language. The exhibition vividly demonstrates the grave situation around the world by capturing touching moments from different countries battling the same virus. This is the first time that I attend a photo exhibition themed on the response to the pandemic. I believe the exhibition will boost our courage to defeat the virus and strengthen our determination to act with unity,” said Li Qianguang, vice president of CFLAC.
Chinese and foreign guests jointly unveiled the online exhibition. The opening ceremony of the exhibition was presided over by Gao Anming, vice president and editor-in-chief of CIPG, and attended by guests including Li Ge, president of the China Photographers Association (CPA) and Wu Yanhua, deputy director of the Center of Photographic Art and director of the Department of Internet Information of CFLAC and editor-in-chief of the CPA’s official website.
The exhibition features more than 200 photographic works from media organizations and photographers from 27 countries that have been severely hit by the coronavirus outbreak, including China, South Korea, Egypt, France, Italy, Russia, Spain, Brazil, Mexico, Peru, and the United States. Through documenting disordered life and extraordinary moments, those images can inspire countries around the world to cooperate in the battle against the pandemic and jointly build a global community of health for all. The exhibition falls into five sections including “Unanticipated COVID-19 Outbreak Worldwide”, “Life Matters, Love Prevails”, “Standing Together Through Thick and Thin”, “Global Shutdown, Sinking Economy”, and “Boosting Confidence in Recovery, Moving Forward with Courage.”
“I was honored for the chance to capture the stories of different groups during the COVID-19 outbreak,” said Mexican photographer Marco Peláez. “The disease caught the world by surprise, but we are slowly learning how to deal with it. This exhibition is part of our drive to deliver global anti-epidemic action with cameras.”
“Photos are fragments of time,” said Chinese photographer Liu Yu. “When these fragments are spliced together, they become a relatively complete picture. In another time, people will recall what happened in Wuhan during this special period. What I endeavored to do is to provide a fragment.”
These photos shine light on the heavy price paid by humans in the fight against the raging coronavirus. They document heartwarming acts of mutual assistance, monumental courage on the front lines, and the tremendous strength of human society to overcome the pandemic. “When our homes became shelters, looking outside became a gaze into an uncertain future,” said Italian photographer Max Intrisano. “Finding appreciation for so many things we took for granted has been true happiness. Through a camera I can feel the silence of the street and the absence of people—a sort of temporal suspension.”
The images also shed light on some of the most striking expressions of joy, anger, sorrow, and support in difficult times, demonstrating that mankind is a community of common health that shares weal and woe.
“I have seen the glorious side of human nature,” said China Pictorial photographer Duan Wei, recalling his time in Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak in China. “In the face of difficulties, people made major sacrifices for the benefit of others. I have seen the courage of humankind. When we encounter danger, we fight together and refuse to yield.”
It is the first large-scale online photo exhibition in the world with the theme of fighting against the COVID-19 epidemic. Presented on the internet, the exhibition is available on mobile devices, computers and social media. The mobile platform uses 3D modeling technology to provide a virtual exhibition experience in both Chinese and English; computers offer a visually impressive experience with larger images, which is presented in eight languages including Chinese, English, Korean, Arabic, French, Italian, Russian and Spanish.
The exhibition is jointly sponsored by CIPG, Seoul Metropolitan Government, Aju News Corporation, Egyptian newspaper Al Youm7, Istituto dell’Enciclopedia Italiana Treccani, China-Italy Youth Association, Russian newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta, the Club Primera Plana and La Jornada from Mexico, and Peruvian news agency ANDINA, and jointly organized by China Pictorial Publications, China.org.cn, China Today magazine, and Beijing Bosheng International Cultural Exchange Co., Ltd. The CFLAC Center of Photographic Art provided art direction for the exhibition.
The exhibition, scheduled to last for six months, is part of international online cultural exchange activities held by CIPG amid the COVID-19 pandemic.