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Survival and fate on display at Vevey photo festival

Juno Calypso

This month, the entire town of Vevey on Lake Geneva is “an open-air museum”. The 2020 edition of the most important visual arts biennale in Switzerland is fittingly called “Unexpected. The randomness of things”.

The outdoor photo exhibition Festival Images VeveyExternal link, which is free to visit, runs until September 27. Fifty photographic installations, produced by some sixty Swiss and international artists, are on display.

According to director Stefano Stoll, “certain works that deal with the question of confinement or cataclysm overlap with current events, even though they were planned for this festival well before the start of the pandemic”.

Festival organisers wanted to give centre stage to the work of the French contemporary artist Christian Boltanski. At the heart of the festival is one of Boltanski’s works, entitled “The wheel of fortune” and renamed “Chance” for the purposes of this exhibit. Stoll said that Boltanski was fascinated by the concept of fate, as can be seen in his black-and-white headshots of newborns.

“The infant didn’t choose his or her family, but his fate is sealed,” explained Stoll.

Another work that has parallels with today’s period of confinement and survival is “What to do With a Million Years”, a work by Juno Calypso. This young British photographer was able to obtain the keys to a lavish residence in Las Vegas, built entirely underground in the 1970s by a very anxious rich American who wanted to protect himself from the risks of the Cold War. 

Stoll acknowledged “that this 2020 edition is, in its choices, more serious than the previous editions” but that given the pandemic, it would not have been appropriate to create an “amusement park” for an exhibit.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR