Prisoners, parents and postmodern architecture at Images Vevey | Photography

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Prisoners, parents and postmodern architecture at Images Vevey | Photography

Swhen you step out of the train station, you are greeted by the towering facade of the Duomo di Milano in all its splendor. You’d be forgiven for thinking you’ve jumped on the wrong train, because it’s actually Vevey in Switzerland, host to Images Vevey 2022, a biennial festival and celebration of photography and visual arts.

The scene before you is a stunning, almost full-scale reproduction of the German artist Thomas Struth’s photograph of the great gothic cathedral. To reproduce it on such a scale – four of his images are exhibited in this way – is enormously ambitious.

Taking risks has become a hallmark of the festival, which is the brainchild of director Stefano Stoll. His vision fosters a dialogue between the work shown and the fabric of the town and its landscape. Another in Struth’s series, titled Unconscious Collectivity, sees a monumental version of his Disneyland Mountain at Anaheim placed in direct confrontation with the splendor of the Alps across Lake Geneva.

Mountain, Anaheim, California 2013

  • Mountain, Anaheim, California 2013, by Thomas Struth

The festival features a series of portraits of French female prisoners by Bettina Reims, entitled Détenues. The project, which challenges notions of femininity and judgement, is thought-provokingly displayed in the church of Sainte-Claire. A metal frame that supports each portrait echoes the brutal aesthetic of a prison, which hides unpleasantly in the elegant arches of the church. It is a place of reckoning, but, says Stoll, also of forgiveness and reflection, which brings another dimension to the work.

Portrait of prisoner
Female prisoner
Female prisoner
Female prisoner
Various Détenues portraits

Each series has been chosen to match this year’s theme of Together – La Vie Ensemble – which explores environment, family ties, politics, religion and science. A statement on technology is made by Ryoji Ikeda, a leading electronic composer and visual artist from Japan. His installation Test Pattern (No. 14) is a disturbingly immersive experience, exploding your senses with flashing black and white binary patterns and static electronic sound in the Théâtre de l’Oriental-Vevey. Stepping back into the soothing scenery of the pretty town, you can’t help but feel that Ikeda is making the point that while technology stimulates us, something unnerving is happening in parallel.

Test Pattern (No. 14)
Test Pattern (No. 14) by Ryoji Ikeda at Images Vevey 2022

In Stoll’s mind, the composition of the festival is a two-way street. As a child of Vevey himself, he is particularly sensitive to the interests and concerns of the community and their environment. He is particularly proud of his sensitive renovation of the derelict flats above the train station that used to be home to station workers. Here he invested in creating a cultural space, L’Appartement, while maintaining the feel of a homely environment where work that resonates with ideas of “home” can be exhibited.

This year, a series of its rooms are occupied by Dutch photographer Bertien Van Manen’s Give Me Your Image. Van Manen surfed her way through Europe between 2002 and 2005, staying with friends and acquaintances. Noticing cherished photographs of loved ones displayed in their homes, she chose to photograph each in their immediate domestic environment, creating beautiful little altars of memorial.

Toulouse, 2003
Amsterdam, 2005
Paris, 2002

  • Toulouse, 2003, Amsterdam, 2005, and Paris, 2002, from Give me your image by Bertien van Manen

By contrast, the town’s old forge has been preserved in its original architectural state, rather than renovated, but it provides a fitting juxtaposition for Alexander Rosenkranz’s images of the postmodern marvel that is Gibellina in Italy. Commissioned by Images Vevey, Rosenkranz visited the city, which was rebuilt after being destroyed by an earthquake in 1968. The aim was to question and explore the reconstruction of a city that has become an artistic urban model. The resulting series shows an unconventional approach to architectural photography, displayed to great effect in the traditional courtyard of the forge.

Gibellina Model Studies 01 Untitled
Gibellina Model Studies 05 Untitled
Alexander Rosenkranz's Gibellina Model Studies series

Stories about the complexity of human relationships appear throughout the exhibition. From Siân Davey’s intimate study of her daughters, Alice and Martha, to Diana Markosian’s epic multi-media dramatization of her mother’s biography, the aim is to engage and unite us with shared themes of joy, sorrow and love.

From Siân Davey's Martha & Alice series
Santa Barbara

The town’s care home for the elderly aptly overlooks the lawn that hosts Deanna Dikeman’s tender series Leaving and Waving. Beginning in 1991, Dikeman took photographs of her parents waving goodbye as she left their home, shot from inside her car, a simple reflection of the passage of time that is incredibly moving. In a circular display that flows with the chronology of each gesture, the story unfolds – no spoilers here – to gently remind us of the festive theme and to cherish those we love.

Leave and wave
Old couple waving
Couple waving

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