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Photography What does Swiss security look like?

Switzerland faces a wide range of real and perceived threats, including terrorism, cybercrime, climate change and migration. The precautions taken in one of the world's safest countries are correspondingly diverse.

Who is responsible for security? Who should be protected from what? What does this protection look like?

Photographer and publicist Salvatore Vitale explores these questions in "How to Secure a Country", an exhibition of photographs looking at the institutions that are supposed to protect us.

Big business, many players

Security today is a billion-dollar business, involving not only the army, police and border guards but also weather forecasters, the Swiss National Supercomputing Centre (CSCS) and the Institute of Robotics and Intelligent Systems (IRIS), for example. 

Salvatore Vitale was almost 20 years old when he left Sicily to study in Lugano, in the southern Swiss canton of Ticino. He knew very little about Switzerland, and so was surprised to find the cellar of his first rented apartment in an air-raid shelter, as is common in Switzerland.

Ten years later Vitale felt at home in Switzerland. But when the right-wing populist initiative against mass immigration was approved at the ballot box in 2014, he was shocked. He began to research what it means to live in one of the safest countries in the world - and what fears are associated with it. 

Vital's photographs do not so much provide answers as stimulate discussion. And the question posed by the exhibition organizers must ultimately be answered by each visitor individually: "How much freedom are we prepared to give up for our safety?

Salvatore Vitale's visual research project runs until 26 May 2019 at the Fotostiftung Schweizexternal link in Winterthur, canton Zurich.

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