Between idyll and reality

A photographic exhibition at the Fine Arts Museum in Berne takes a look at the two faces of one of Switzerland's most picturesque regions.

This content was published on March 7, 2000 - 10:11

A photographic exhibition at the Fine Arts Museum in Berne takes a look at the two faces of one of Switzerland's most picturesque regions.

"Between Idyll and Reality" contrasts the rural tranquillity of the Emmental in Canton Berne with the often harsh conditions of everyday life. Curator Markus Schürf says the intention is to show that behind its popular image of rolling hills and dairy farms there is also a degree of poverty there.

The photographs were taken over the past 150 years by studio photographers and travellers to the Emmental. Some of them, commissioned by illustrated magazines, glamorise the living and working conditions of Emmental farmers and their families.

"There are photographs which say more about the ideological context of the time than the reality of what they represent," added Schürf.

The exhibition, which ends on May 28, also portrays a region rich in folklore, where many traditional rural values have survived the major changes which have taken place around it.

By Richard Dawson

Photograph of tractor taken in 1933 by Hans Staub

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