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In photos Who is ‘Homo Helveticus?’

Didier Ruef has been documenting life in Switzerland for more than 30 years. His book contains a carefully compiled selection of photos of Switzerland and the people who call it home.

The Swiss historian Thomas Maissen writes in the foreword to the book: “There is nothing that does not exist in Switzerland.” Perhaps, someone should add to this: and, nothing that the photographer has not captured by his camera in the last 30 years.

Ruef grew up in Geneva. Like many from the area, he looked beyond his horizons to France at an early age and was shaped by the international environment in Geneva.  After graduation, he moved to New York, where he trained as a photographer at the International Centre for Photography.

Back home, Ruef blended a passion for street photography, which he studied with enthusiasm in New York, with his decades of reporting on his own country. Feeling restless and curious, he set out to explore the burgeoning field of street photography and bring out the diversity and history of each canton.

Throughout the years, Geneva has remained a kind of port for the photographer who has always returned to the city and also photographed it on many occasions.

The book “Homo Helveticus” was published by Till Schaap Verlag in Bern. The book shows 167 black-and-white photos taken over the last thirty years in all four language regions of Switzerland. The photographs reflect Ruef’s perspective coloured with love, but also irony. His photography takes a personal and documentary look at the country that has made him the man and photographer he is today.

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