Nobel Prize

WATCH: Filipina photographer’s work opens Oslo Nobel exhibition
Hannah Reyes Morales and Nana Heitmann of Russia were commissioned to produce photo essays in response to the Nobel laureates’ fight for freedom of expression

OSLO, Norway – Nobel Peace Prize 2021 laureates Maria Ressa and Dmitry Muratov formally opened the Nobel Peace Prize Exhibition on December 11, a day after the two journalists were awarded their medals.

The year-long exhibit at the Nobel Peace Center is intended to showcase “how journalists uncover abuse of power and disinformation in a world where truth, trust, and democracy are under attack.” Two photographers, Hannah Reyes Morales of the Philippines and Nanna Heitmann of Russia, were commissioned to produce photo essays in response to the “laureates’ fight for freedom of expression.”

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Morales’ series, called “In the Shadow of False Light,” was “deeply personal” for the acclaimed photographer. “I would be on assignment, witnessed killings, witnessed human rights abuses,” Morales said during the Oslo exhibition opening. “I would come home, open my computer, and see my own loved ones not believe what we as journalists saw on the ground.”

An excerpt of the exhibition text, by Nicola Sebastian, offers the following context for Morales’ series:

“A child in a Manila shanty inserts a one-peso coin into a vending machine, for five minutes of wi-fi. A TikTok content moderator works from home, scrolling through thousands of posts for violations. His family catches glimpses of the pornography, murder videos, and hate speech he needs to report. A digital creative living paycheck to paycheck accepts a gig as a troll, becoming part of a disinformation operation run by a politician. A fact checker gathers information to disprove falsehoods going viral on Facebook. She devotes as much as two weeks to research a post that took seconds to manufacture and share.

“Light can obscure as much as it illuminates. In the Philippine landscape, limited, uneven Internet access creates scattered and isolated islands of sense-making, which fail to connect into a cohesive image.

“Here, disorder is as ordinary as a kid with a toy gun, pretending he is a hitman killing a drug user in a neighborhood ravaged by President Duterte’s drug war. When Facebook is free for all, but less than a third of Filipino children have Internet access for their online classes, how is the emergence of disinformation surprising?”

The digital exhibition is available here. Video by Patricia Evangelista. Exhibition photos courtesy of Hannah Reyes Morales, Nanna Heitmann and Jon Terje Hellgren Hansen of the Nobel Peace Center. –