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Patrick Gilliéron Lopreno Shedding light on the world of prisons

Patrick Gilliéron Lopreno is a press photographer based in Geneva but for many years he has carried out personal research into enclosed worlds. He began with prisons in French-speaking Switzerland, where he spent two years researching for an exhibition called “Prison Puzzle”.

“Instinct and spontaneity are vital when creating an image. It’s only during the editing or image selection that I get involved,” he writes in the revue La Cité about a photography course that he gave and paid for at Geneva’s La Brenaz prison in 2011. A definition which holds for his own way of taking pictures.

But the force of Lopreno’s images also comes from the time taken immersing himself in the reality of his subjects, in the circumstances of detainees at La Brenaz and Champ-Dollon in Geneva and Bochuz in canton Vaud, and the time spent digesting this experience – which had an effect on him.

His photos convey this experience without voyeurism or sensationalism and while avoiding the trap of aestheticism. They are beautiful as a result of their inherent truth. A sensitive approach which Lopreno subsequently applied to another enclosed world: that of monasteries. The result of that project is being published now.

(Text: Frédéric Burnand, Images: Patrick Gilliéron Lopreno)

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