Prisoners, parents and postmodern architecture at Images Vevey | Photography

Sexiting the station, you are greeted by the imposing facade of the Duomo di Milano in all its glory. You’d be forgiven for thinking you’ve jumped on the wrong bandwagon as this is actually Vevey in Switzerland, host of Images Vevey 2022, a biannual festival and celebration of photography and the visual arts.

The scene before you is a stunning, almost large-scale reproduction of German artist Thomas Struth’s photograph of the grand Gothic cathedral. To reproduce it on such a scale – four of its images are thus exhibited – is extremely ambitious.

Taking risks has become a festival signature, the brainchild of director Stefano Stoll. His vision promotes a dialogue between the work shown and the fabric of the city and its landscape. Another in Struth’s series, titled Unknown Community, sees a monumental version of his Disneyland mountain in Anaheim placed in direct confrontation with the splendor of the Alps on the other side of Lake Geneva.

Mountain, Anaheim, California 2013
  • Mountain, Anaheim, California 2013, by Thomas Struth

The festival presents a series of portraits of French female prisoners by Bettina Rheims, entitled Détenues. The project, which defies notions of femininity and judgment, is provocatively presented in St. Clare’s Church. A metal frame supporting each portrait echoes the brutal aesthetic of a prison, snuggling incongruously into the elegant vaults of the church. It is a place of judgment but, says Stoll, also of forgiveness and reflection, bringing another dimension to the work.

Portrait of prisoner
female prisoner
female prisoner
female prisoner
Several portraits of prisoners

Each series was chosen based on this year’s Together theme – La Vie Ensemble – which explores the environment, family ties, politics, religion and science. A statement on the technology is brought by Ryoji Ikeda, a great electronic composer and visual artist from Japan. His installation chart (#14) is an unsettling immersive experience, blasting your senses with flashing black and white binary patterns and static electronic sound in the Théâtre de l’Oriental-Vevey. As you step back into the soothing landscape of the pretty town, you can’t help but feel that Ikeda is pointing out that while technology drives us, something unsettling is happening alongside it.

Test pattern (#14)
Mire (no 14) by Ryoji Ikeda at Images Vevey 2022

In Stoll’s mind, organizing the festival is a two-way street. Himself a child of Vevey, he is particularly sensitive to the interests and concerns of the community and its environment. He is particularly proud of his sensitive renovation of the derelict flats above the station that once housed station workers. Here he has invested in the creation of a cultural space, L’Appartement, while preserving the sense of a domestic setting where work that resonates with notions of ‘home’ can be exhibited.

This year, a series of its rooms are occupied by Give Me Your Image by Dutch photographer Bertien Van Manen. Van Manen couch surfed across Europe between 2002 and 2005, visiting friends and acquaintances. Noticing cherished photographs of loved ones displayed in their homes, she chose to photograph each in their immediate home surroundings, creating beautiful little memorial altars.

Toulouse, 2003
Amsterdam, 2005
Paris, 2002
  • Toulouse, 2003, Amsterdam, 2005 and Paris, 2002, after Give Me Your Image by Bertien van Manen

By contrast, the city’s old forge has been retained in its original architectural state, rather than renovated, but it offers a fitting juxtaposition to Alexander Rosenkranz’s images of the postmodern wonder that is Gibellina in Italy. Mandated by Images Vevey, Rosenkranz visited the city rebuilt after being devastated by an earthquake in 1968. The objective 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, showcased in the traditional forge courtyard.

Gibellina Model Studies 01 Untitled
Gibellina Model Studies 05 Untitled
Series of studies on the Gibellina model by Alexander Rosenkranz

Stories about the complexity of human relationships appear throughout the exhibit. From Siân Davey’s intimate study of her daughters, Alice and Martha, to Diana Markosian’s epic multimedia dramatization of her mother’s biography, the goal is to engage and unite us with common themes of joy, sadness and love.

From the series Martha & Alice by Siân Davey
St. Barbara

The town’s aged care home appropriately overlooks the grassy spot that hosts Deanna Dikeman’s tender Leaving and Waving series. Starting in 1991, Dikeman took photos of her parents saying goodbye to her as she left their house, taken from inside her car, a simple reflection of the passage of time that is incredibly moving. In a circular display that accompanies the timeline of every gesture, the story unfolds – no spoilers here – to gently remind us of the festival theme and cherish those we love.

Leave and greet
Old couple waving
couple waving
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