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What does security really mean?

Few themes absorb and polarise society today like the issue of security. Swiss photographer Marc Renaud looks at the psychological dimension through three very different approaches.

Renaud has focused on the subject since studying at the International Center of Photography in New York in 2002. The oppressive and fearful atmosphere that has come about since the attacks of September 11, 2001 moved him to create the first part of his project – which later developed into a trilogy.

Influenced by American Street Photography, he has focused on the boundary between streets and buildings – a line that needs to keep out danger. It’s a border featuring doormen. Renaud captures them in medium format.

Back in Switzerland, the photographer looked at the theme of security in the cities of Bern, Basel and Zurich. The blue lights that are supposed to discourage drug addicts from shooting up take on the role played in the US by security personnel.

The third part puts the spotlight on re-enactments of disasters by representatives of public service organisations – disasters that threaten Switzerland as well. In this series Renaud captures the exercises with his camera, without revealing the scenarios. The panoramic format, however, gives a hint of the spectacular events to come. In the bluish light, both disturbing and surreal, test dummies can be seen, covered in a ketchup-red substance like in a bad horror movie. As in the two previous series, the discrepancy between the dummies’ artificial appearance and the reality of the work of the firefighters, who must respond precisely to prepare for an impending disaster, casts doubt on the effectiveness of such measures.

All photos Marc Renaud, text Pauline Martin (translated from German by Jeannie Wurz)

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR