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Mads Nissen: Brazil in the time of Covid PANOS PICTURES WORLD PRESS WINNER April 27, 2021

Posted by bohdan.warchomij in : Metaphor Online, Panos Pictures , trackback

Mads Nissen PANOS PICTURES WORLD PRESS WINNER

Mads Nissen’s series on the Covid 19 crisis in Brazil from which the World Press Photo of the Year 2021 was selected. Mads talked to us about how he came to take the winning image.

In March 2020, care homes across Brazil closed their doors to all visitors, preventing millions of Brazilians from visiting their elderly relatives, while the home’s carers were ordered to keep all physical contact with their vulnerable residents to an absolute minimum. However, at Viva Bem, an elderly people’s home outside São Paulo, a simple new invention ‘The Hug Curtain’ has enabled families and their elderly relatives to see and hug each other without risking lives. For residents who do not have visitors, volunteers and staff are ready to step in, because, as they say at Viva Bem, “Everyone deserves a good hug”.

Brazil has one of the the world’s highest rates of COVID-19 infections, at over 13,5 million, and a staggering death toll of nearly 355,000 people (by April 2021).

Q: How did you end up covering the COVID-19 pandemic in Brazil?

MN:
I saw a beautiful people devastated by, not only this horrible virus, but also by the failed and irresponsible policies of their own President. The death toll in Brazil is staggering, more than 355,000 dead by April 2021, which is among the highest for any country in the world. President Bolsonaro has continued to neglect the pandemic which he has described it as a ‘small flu’. He has refused to apply any of the internationally recognised measures to mitigate the damage caused by COVID-19 and protect his own population.

I lived in neighbouring Venezuela when I was 18 years old, I’m married to a Colombian and have made two photographic books on the region, so I felt a really strong urge to go and document the crisis at eye level. From the graveyards to the favelas, the suffering and grief, but also the endurance, hope and warmth that is so vivid in the Brazilian culture. These are some of the emotions I hope my image ‘The First Embrace’ will pass on.

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