Unfamiliar Familiarities, Musée de l’Elysée

The touring exhibition ‘Unfamiliar Familiarities’ moves to the Musée de l’Elysée in Lausanne this month. It includes photographs from my series, Sight Sacralization: (Re)framing Switzerland.


Switzerland’s image has been significantly shaped by photographs dedicated to tourism. With spectacular mountain panoramas, rural idylls or portraits of local people the country could be successfully marketed, and these photographs also made an important contribution towards national identity. Another consequence, however, was that the respective pictorial repertoire became inflated and stereotyped.

Switzerland Tourism has chosen an unusual project to mark its 100th anniversary in 2017 with the aim of exploring the potential of photography anew. The Swiss Foundation for Photography (Winterthur) and the Musée de l’Elysée (Lausanne) invited five internationally renowned photographers to scrutinise Switzerland in their capacity as independent, subjective and sensitive observers – unrestricted by any advertising commission.

What Alinka Echeverría (Mexico/UK), Shane Lavalette (USA), Eva Leitolf (Germany), Simon Roberts (UK) and Zhang Xiao (China) discovered on their travels around the country or along its borders is both inspiring and revealing. Their exciting, poetic or mysterious-enigmatic images invite viewers to see the familiar with the eyes of an outsider.

An initiative of the Swiss Foundation for Photography, co-produced by the Musée de l’Elysée and with the support of Switzerland Tourism.

A boxed set of books co-published by the Swiss Foundation for Photography, the Musée de l’Elysée and Lars Müller Publishers will accompany the exhibition.

Preview: Tuesday, October 24 at 6pm


Tatyana Franck, director of the Musée de l’Elysée
Peter Pfrunder, director of the Swiss Foundation for Photography
Lars Willumeit, independent curator

Press Release available HERE.