Swiss Foundation for Photography

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. The resulting book and touring exhibition was called Unfamiliar Familiarities – Outside views of Switzerland. The project was supported by Switzerland Tourism to mark its 100th anniversary in 2017.

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.

Roberts created a series of large-format tableaux photographs taken of viewing platforms at some of the most photographed places in Switzerland. The locations were sourced using the online mapping software Sightsmap, which creates popularity heatmaps based on crowdsourcing geo-tagged photographs uploaded to the Internet. He also utilised augmented data within several of his photographs exhibited in the Museum: embedded information ranging from videos of tourists taking selfies to a stream of images taken from the same locations within the last twenty-four hours. You can view the work here.

Alongside his photographs, Roberts also created two video pieces, which were premiered on Nowness. They can be viewed here and here. Swiss Tourism used one of the photographs for their annual report.

A catalogue was published by Lars Müller Publishers to accompany the exhibition.


Official press release about the project (pdf)

Cover feature on Roberts’ work published in Il Sore 24 Ore, Italy, 2018 (pdf)

Portfolio of Roberts’ photographs published in Swiss Air magazine, 2018 (pdf)