In its third season, the Alt. +1000 festival of contemporary photography
is rising to new heights. From 13th July to 22 September, it will offer a new way to see the unspoilt village of Rossinière and discover thirty photographers from Switzerland and around the world. Altitude is both the name and the theme of the 2013 festival while still focused on the mountain, it is expanding its horizons to take in the broadest perspective yet. This is also the start of a new rhythm as from now on it will run every two years. Twelve exhibitions will combine work by young and established photographers. They will also introduce the work of the five winners of the 2013 Alt. +1000 competition open to photographers under 40 and pieces by students at the Seoul school of photography. At the same time the public will be able to discover the works of Simon Norfolk, winner of the 4th Prix Pictet Commission, on display in Switzerland for the first time, those of Genevan photographer Nicolas Crispini and the American artist Penelope Umbrico, and others. And finally, an exhibition will bring together a first retrospective of the Swissair ads created by the Swiss photographer Georg Gerster from the 1970s to the 1990s.
Throughout a whole summer, Alt. +1000 will stage twelve exhibitions of contemporary photography in a setting that recalls ancient ways of life.
No mere tourist postcard, the festival is an invitation to stroll through a range of works that invite us to reflect on the representation of altitude, confronting them with the vernacular identity of this mountain village. "Anyone passionate about contemporary art will be amazed by the festival," stresses Nathalie Herschdorfer, festival director and exhibition curator, "because of our rustic staging in exhibition spaces proud of their Alpine identity. This is the context into which we have invited artists from a range of countries and at different stages in their careers to reveal their personal vision of altitude."
The common theme running through all the exhibitions is the idea of altitude. The works on display offer a variety of interpretations of this theme, including representations of the mountain, of course, but not stopping there. They make use of an array of devices to create reflections on space, territory or the notion of scale, whether geographic or social. "As part of the Alt. +1000 festival, we have endeavoured to share different points of view and artists' reflections on a shared theme. For the invited artists and prize winners alike, reaching for the sky has often been synonymous with adopting a vertical vision or an aerial view. But an approach to altitude can also call for a different perspective and lead to surprising images,", adds Nathalie Herschdorfer.
The juxtaposition of contemporary photography and traditional architecture is not the only contrast striven for by the festival. It also aims to mingle the viewpoints of artists at different phases in their career and working in different international contexts. Alt. +1000 has championed young photographers by presenting the work of the winners of its 2013 competition as well as offering carte blanche to students from the Chung-Ang University, Seouls school of photography and the first department of the kind entirely dedicated to the 8th art in South Korea. The festival also offers a retrospective look at aerial photography since the early 1960s, with an exhibition of the original Swissair advertisements, created by the Swiss photographer Georg Gerster and now reunited in Switzerland for the first time.
New Technologies and the Diversification of Photography
The festival also takes into account the range of techniques used by the artists, especially new technologies. "Digital technology makes it possible to reverse our approach: an image can now be created from digital data," remarks Nathalie Herschdorfer. Thus the British artist Dan Holdsworth works exclusively with 3D models of topographic data to reconstruct all the pieces of a landscape never captured on camera. As for the Genevan photographer Nicolas Crispini, his series Tracés involves data from the GPS technology used on his Alpine walks. Finally, the compositions of the American artist Penelope Umbrico are the result of all kinds of manipulations made possible by smartphone apps. Given that digital technology has popularised photography and image sharing, the Alt. +1000 festival offers a unique artistic experience: visitors are invited to send Penelope Umbrico an image taken on their smartphones in a specific area of Rossinière. Once it has been retouched by the artist, the image will then be sent back in MMS format or by email. This offers each visitor a free and unique artwork.