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High Altitude: A Festival of Contemporary Mountain Photography in Switzerland
Olivo Barbieri, Untitled, from the series Dolomites Project © 2010.


ROSSINIERE.- The mountain has been conducive to the affirmation of identities in Switzerland and elsewhere around the world. This theme has continued to fascinate artists since tours in the Alps by the painter Caspar Wolf in the 18th century. The mountainous landscape attracted the first generation of photographers in the 19th century, who managed to quickly produce extraordinary images. At the beginning of the 21st century, the mountain suddenly shows certain fragility as humans begin to infiltrate its environment. What remains of the myths associated with it ? Does the mountain still inspire artists today ? What perception does one have of the mountain when its inhabitants disappear and our references are more and more limited to the urban world ?

After its initial success in 2008, the high altitude festival of contemporary mountain photography raises the bar. From July to September, high altitude will give you the
opportunity to discover the works of forty international artists through 10 photographic exhibitions, which will also include an unusual visit to the famous village of Rossinière, known for its 17th and 18th century buildings, its green surroundings which are characteristic of the Pays-d’Enhaut and where the painter Balthus lived until the end of his life. Visitors will be invited into several houses and barns in this unspoilt mountain village to discover various works of contemporary photography. These works evoke the mountain in its many facets : spectacular, sublime, domesticated, constructed (or even artificial !), unreachable or frightening. Among the artists on display are : Olaf Otto Becker (Germany), Olivo Barbieri (Italy), Justine Blau (Luxembourg), Susan E. Evans (USA), Matthieu Gafsou (France/Switzerland), Anne Golaz (Switzerland), Michael Najjar (Germany) and Francis Frith (England), the pioneer of mountain photography in the 19th century.

Selected after their participation in the high altitude competition – a competition for international photographers under 40 years of age – or as a guest with carte blanche offered to students of the Royal College of Art in London, young artists, most of whom live far from the wilderness, celebrate and question the myths attached to the mountain and interpret in their own way this elusive landscape. The alpine landscape was already a source of fascination to the first generation of photographers in the 19th century. As an introduction to the contemporary works, the high altitude festival therefore wanted to show extraordinary photographs of alpine landscapes dating from the mid-19th century : the public will have the opportunity to discover the very first photographs of Switzerland – the outstanding French daguerreotypes by Girault de Prangey made only a few years after the invention of photography – and Swiss Views by the famous English photographer Francis Frith.





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