AP’s best photos of 2022 capture a planet about to explode

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Associated Press Photo

Israeli police clash with mourners as they carry the coffin of slain Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh during her funeral in east Jerusalem, May 13, 2022. Abu Akleh, a Palestinian-American reporter who covered the conflict in Middle East for more than 25 years, was shot dead two days earlier during an Israeli military raid on the West Bank city of Jenin. (AP Photo/Maya Levin)

Taken together, they can convey the sense of a world in upheaval: 150 Associated Press images from all of 2022, showing the fragments that make up our lives, freezing in time the moments that somehow these days seem to pass faster than never.

Here: a man retrieving items from a burning shop in Ukraine after a Russian attack. Here: people crowding the residence of the Sri Lankan president after protesters stormed in demanding his resignation. Here: medical workers trying to identify the victims of a bridge collapse in India. And here: Flames engulf a chair inside a burning house as wildfires rage through Mariposa County, California.

As history unfolded in 2022 and the world lurched forward—or, at times, it seemed—in other directions, Associated Press photographers were there to bring unforgettable images. Through his lenses, through the moments and the months, the presence of chaos can seem more enveloping than ever.

News footage from a year can also be explanatory. To see these photographs is to channel, at least a little, the confusing nature of the events that come to us, whether we are participating in them or, more likely, observing them from afar. Thus, 150 individual front row seats to history and life translate into a message: while the world fills with disorder, the rattle of everyday life in all its beauty continues to unfold in all corners of the planet.

There is pain: Three heart-shaped balloons fly at a memorial site outside the elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, where a gunman killed 19 children and two teachers.

There is determination: Migrants in a wooden boat float across the Mediterranean Sea south of an Italian island, trying to reach their destination.

There is fear: A man looks up at the sky over his shoulder, a look of fear on his face, as he walks past homes damaged by a rocket attack in Ukraine.

There are flashes of calamity: Villagers gather in northern Kenya, in an area affected by climate-induced drought.

There is perseverance: A girl uses a kerosene oil lamp to attend online lessons during a power outage in the Sri Lankan capital.

However, don’t be blinded by all the violence and disorder, which can drown out other things, but maybe they shouldn’t. Because here, too, there are photos of joy and exuberance and, simply, of everyday human life.

A skier soaring through the air in Austria, conquering gravity for a fleeting moment. Chris Martin of the band Coldplay, singing towards the sky in Rio de Janeiro. A lone guard marching past Buckingham Palace days after the death of Queen Elizabeth II. An 8-year-old Afghan girl, her eyes locked on the camera, posing for a photo of herself in her classroom in Kabul, days after a bomb attack on her school. Women taking a selfie at a ski resort in Lesotho.

Finally, allow a moment to consider one of those pauses in the march of humanity: a child soaking in a public fountain in a heat wave in Vilnius, Lithuania, reveling in the water and the sun and the simple act of just being. Even in the midst of a year of chaos on a restless planet, moments of tranquility manage to creep up.

— By Ted Anthony, AP National Writer

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