Inna Shevchenko, 21, is one of the leaders of Femen. The feminist Ukrainian protest group organizes topless protests against sex tourists, sexism and social problems © Guillaume Herbaut/INSTITUTE.
"It's a nice feeling," says Guillaume Herbaut of learning that he was awarded a prize in this year's World Press Photo. "I'm surprised, especially when your realise that your work was selected from among hundreds of thousands of excellent images. To know that you've been noticed by the panel of judges at World Press Photo, it's just amazing."
Herbaut started documenting Amazon tribes in Ukraine a few years ago. "These groups of women want to bring back these tribes to Ukraine. In mythology, the Amazons originate from that country. It's fascinating. And last year, I was asked to do a series of images around the theme of 'Borderlines'."
Herbault's work, called The New Amazons, follows the Femen protest group. "Their goal is to fight sexual tourism and to educate women to be more assertive and powerful. They use their bodies as a weapon," writes Herbaut on his site, recording the words of one of his subject: "At the beginning, we were so naive and we manifested with balloons shouting some slogans, but nobody listened us. But one day, we don't know why, one of us, Kseniya Chatchko, undressed, and we saw that the people, the press started to see us and to listen us."
Speaking to BJP, Herbaut says: "I think what's interesting is the fact that the naked body has become a militant act. We're seeing a lot more political movements that use nakedness to expose their opinions."
Herbaut's image could, however, prove controversial for World Press Photo, Daphné Anglès, the award's secretary, tells BJP. "There are some countries where the exhibition won't be able to go because of that specific image," she says. Herbaut half expected this to happen. "I was very surprised when my agency told me that certain markets couldn't publish these photos because the women depicted were naked. The US is one of these markets. I'm astonished, maybe because I'm French. For us, there are no issues with this kind of images. It's very natural. There's nothing shocking. I think it will be interesting to see how different countries react to that image."
For more about Herbaut's work, visit the Institute website.
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