Geneva photographer Patrick Gilliéron Lopreno has released his second book, “Journey to Switzerland” – a black and white ballad in the urbanised countryside between the Jura and the Alps. With empathy, he captures the bittersweet atmosphere of this area and its people living at the fringes.
If there were a soundtrack to accompany the new book, it could be Bruce Springsteen’s album “Nebraska” (1982). In both cases, you see shattered destinies, a cracked modernity and flashes of beauty.
Lopreno shows an urban Switzerland in its countryside – a reality that had already struck Geneva philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau.
“Switzerland is like a big town with 13 neighbourhoods, some in valleys, others on hillsides, others on mountains. [...] You can hardly call it deserted when there are bell towers in forests, flocks on outcrops, factories in abysses and workshops sitting beside a torrent,” wrote Rousseau in the 18th century.
Past and present industrial revolutions have since erased many of the romantic charms of this shattered landscape outside the urban centres – in stark contrast to the images that continue to resonate with the Swiss as well as with tourists.
“Journey to Switzerland” observes this without judgement. Once revealed on silver paper, the images captured on the film of Lopreno’s old Nikon FM3 exhale a certain tenderness. These landscapes have the beauty of a modernity that has doubts and that has also gone astray.