Since the late 1920s – when it became possible to print photographs in high quality – the book has repeatedly proved itself to be an ideal platform for the presentation of photographic works. Books have not only contributed to the dissemination and transmission of photography but also facilitated the integration of the individual image into a meaningful context or sequence.
The exhibition is based on an extensive research project in which hundreds, in part long-forgotten photobooks were brought together and critically examined. The selection of works resulting from this process forms the backbone of this new history of Swiss photography, which is also being published as a book.
The publication presents the individual works with extensive picture spreads and texts by 23 authors – a chronological reference work that also traces the process that has seen the photograph change from a document into a means of subjective and artistic expression.
With the help of seven thematic areas – homeland, portraiture, mountain photography, the world of work, aerial photography, contemporary history, travel – this exhibition aims at a kind of typology of the Swiss photobook which draws attention to the potential interplay between book and photograph, while also revealing the extent to which modes of expression have altered over the course of time. Concise excerpts from these books exhibited on the walls highlight the basic principle of each photobook – a photograph positioned on a double page still remains an integral part of a larger sequence. The concept, design and reception of photobooks are examined more closely in display cases. A large wall installation is devoted to photobook covers. The photobook is also presented as an object in film form: “reading” illustrated photography books is not just an intellectual but also a sensual act.
Unitl February 19, 2012
Fotostiftung Schweiz, Zürich
Walter Mittelholzer, Alpenflug, Orell Füssli, Zurich/Leipzig 1928
Eduard Spelterini, Über den Wolken, Brunner & Co. A.G., Zurich 1928