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Splendid isolation The search for 21st-century hermits

You don’t see them often – and for a reason: in Switzerland, they live in forests or up mountains. The photographer Nelly Rodriguez went in search of modern-day hermits and their way of life, a life of silence and solitude.

“Isole” – islands in Italian – is the name Rodriguez has given to the project. Since 2010, she has photographed people and the places, manmade and natural, in which they live.

“I’m interested in their journey and the reasons that pushed them to choose this isolation. Many issues are raised: the lifestyle choice, interaction with other people or relationships with society and nature,” she explained at the first showing of the series at the 2013 Biel/Bienne Festival of Photography.

Born in Locarno in 1981, Rodriguez now lives and works in Zurich. A former student at the School of Applied Arts in Vevey, she has taken part in several collective and individual exhibitions since 2005, as well as contributing to many publications. In 2008, she was named Artist of the Year by the Bally Cultural Foundation, which rewards talented visual artists in Italian-speaking Switzerland. (Photos: Nelly Rodriguez, text:

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