National and international artists are invited to transform the sleepy Swiss town into a diverse manifestation of contemporary photography
Tucked away north of Lake Geneva, Vevey is known for being the home of sugar giant, Nestle, and as the final resting place of the beloved comedian, Charlie Chaplin.
However, for three weeks in September every two years, the town is inundated with innovative experiments of imagery, and hosts a plethora of exhibitions and installations both indoors and out, and, this year, underwater too.
“It’s a lot to do with experimentation and making prototypes, and research and development,” says director Stefano Stello. “We are trying things that will only be seen in Vevey, and never again because we can’t repeat it. We take risks.”
Stello explains that at the beginning of the planning process two years ago, they began with around 180 proposals for projects to be displayed around the city.
However, because of the risks and innovation that goes into them, many have to be abandoned due to financial, technical or environmental reasons.
Nevertheless, the impressive selection of 75 projects by artists from all over the world, will be available to see from 10 September through to 2 October, will include the work of Martin Parr, Cristina de Middel and Laurie Simmons.
Each photographer will present a series or project that somehow connects to the theme, “Immersion”, whether that is through matter or method.
Whilst the photographer will provide the imagery, the design, presentation and placement of the imagery is produced entirely by the festival.
“We design it first, and then contact the artist with the proposal,” says Stello. “We usually get pretty quick answers; “no way” or “yes, love it”. And that’s it. We produce everything here.
We never just show things in the public space. Everything we show has a reason to be there. It makes sense. We try to create a meaning that makes sense with the urban environment.”
The takeover also involves a series of screenings, a series of exhibitions representing the winners of various awards that coincide with the festival, such as the Grand Prix Images Vevey, and both visual and audio installations in honour of the 50-year anniversary of the Montreux Jazz Festivals, including the Photojukebox.
British photographer Mat Collishaw has two exhibits at this year’s festival. The first, End of Innocence, is a digital portrait of Pope Innocent X by Diego Velazquez, painted in 1650, constructed out of “luminous pixels”, which dissolve into its 1953 re-interpretation by Francis Bacon. The second is In Camera, where Collishaw presents a collection of 12 negatives from a crime scene in the 1930s, individually illuminated by sporadic flashes for just enough time to make out the images from the archive of Birmingham library.
Although Simmons’ series, Water Ballet was first shown in 1980, here is an example of a collection of photographs that have been transformed in presentation for their second exhibition to the public. The images are of nude women, including Simmons’ friend, Cindy Sherman, ‘dancing’ in a swimming pool. They will be displayed in large format, mounted on backlit windows, giving them the appearance of portholes in an aquarium.
Mocafico’s series of photographs capture the stunning glasswork of two Bohemian artisans living in Dresden. These incredibly delicate and fragile glass sculptures are models of marine invertebrates and are too precious to move from the various European museums. In an another attempt of installation innovation, the images will be shown underwater, as where the creatures are found in their natural environment. Visitors will be asked to wear virtual reality goggle to the watch an animated video of the submerged exhibition.
Lutz displays a series of 10 photographs, seeking to highlight the “dreams and illusions of migrants fleeing from war”. The selection of images is a mixture of shots from past exhibitions, but also reminds us of the positive contribution that migrants have had to the Swiss economy.
Christian Lutz: “The message I am trying to convey is that we cannot solve the problem of migration without undergoing a form of unpredictability. The condition of being accepted as a refugee, is to accept being shoved or modified… The choice of these ten images stems from the narrative, or even the dramatisation of the installation so that there is a dialogue between the images.”
Buser’s image is the largest photograph displayed at the festival this year.
Taking over a section of the Nestle headquarters, the image that reveals the building’s grand interior is like a window, drawing in the eye of the observer.
Buser: “The building of Jean Tschumi is one of the most fascinating buildings I photographed so far. Built in the sixties, it is as timeless as it is beautiful.The architect created a masterpiece, by designing every detail from floor to ceiling, handrails, and furnitures. Three artists were invited to propose a project for the facade of the building. I did not choose the Nestle headquarters, it was the building who chose me. My work is challenged aesthetically in another way in public space than inside an institution. I like to work in different scales, which is possible outside. It is always a tension between the real and the photographed space, which I try to create, between inside and outside. In my photographical installations I try to make visible qualities of architecture one can see everyday, but you don’t perceive it.”
Images Vevey will take place 10 September – 2 October, 2016. Entry if free. For more information, click here