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Unfamiliar Familiarities—Outside Views on Switzerland
Various Artists

Unfamiliar Familiarities—Outside Views on Switzerland

Unfamiliar Familiarities—Outside Views on SwitzerlandUnfamiliar Familiarities—Outside Views on Switzerland
Lars Müller Publishers
German, English, French

Photographs by Alinka Echeverría, Shane Lavalette, Eva Leitolf, Simon Roberts and Zhang Xiao.
Edited by Peter Pfrunder, Lars Willumeit and Tatyana Franck.


Softcover, six booklets in a slipcase.
312 pages
165 x 230mm
ISBN 9783037785102


For Unfamiliar Familiarities five internationally renowned photographers from all over the world were invited to scrutinise Switzerland as independent and subjective observers – unrestricted by any advertising commission. Their images invite viewers to see the familiar with the eyes of an outsider. Switzerland’s image has been significantly shaped by photographs dedicated to tourism. Through spectacular mountain panoramas, snapshots of rural idylls or portraits of local people, the country could be successfully marketed and these photographs also made an important contribution towards national identity. Another consequence, however, was that the respective pictorial repertoire became inflated and stereotyped. Today these glorified stereotypical views are disconnected from reality and need an overhaul.

What the photographers Alinka Echeverría (Mexiko/UK), Shane Lavalette (USA), Eva Leitolf (Germany), Simon Roberts (UK) and Zhang Xiao (China) discovered on their travels around Switzerland or along the country’s borders is both inspiring and revealing. An exhibition opening in 2017 in Winterthur displays the works.

About the Artists
Alinka Echeverría
(b. 1981, Mexico City) is a Mexican-British artist and visual anthropologist working in multiple media.  She holds a Masters degree in Social Anthropology and Development from the University of Edinburgh (2004). After working on HIV prevention projects in East Africa, she pursued a post graduate degree in Photography from the International Center for Photography in New York (2008). Her research based work brings a contemporary and critical approach to questions of visual representation.

Shane Lavalette (b. 1987, Vermont) is a photographer and Founding Director of Assembly, a global platform supporting an innovative roster of artists. Previously, Lavalette worked as the Director of the non-profit organisation Light Work. He holds a BFA from Tufts University in partnership with The School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Lavalette’s photographs have been shown widely, including exhibitions at the High Museum of Art, Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University, Aperture Foundation, Montserrat College of Art, The Carpenter Center for Visual Arts at Harvard University, The Center for Photography at Woodstock, Kaunas Gallery, Le Château d’Eau, Fotostiftung Schweiz, Musée de l’Elysée, and Robert Morat Galerie, in addition to being held in private and public collections.

Eva Leitolf (b. 1966, Würzburg) studied communication design with a focus on photography at University GH Essen. She earned her MFA at the California Institute of the Arts with Allan Sekula and taught regularly at international art schools and universities. Since February 2019 she is Professor of Fine Arts and head of Studio Image at Free University of Bozen/Bolzano.

Simon Roberts (b. 1974, London) is a British photographic artist whose work deals with the socio-cultural meaning of landscape and notions of identity and belonging.

Zhang Xiao (b. 1981, Yantai) is a Chinese photographer who graduated from the Department of Architecture and Design at Yantai University in 2005. He was a photojournalist for Chongqing Morning Post. Zhang won the Three Shadows Photography Award in 2010 with They series. He also received the second Hou Dengke Documentary Photography Award in 2009, The Photography Talent Award (France) in 2010 and the Prix HSBC pour la Photographie in 2011 with his Coastline series. In 2018, He won the Robert Gardner Fellow in Photography of Harvard University. Zhang currently lives and works in Chengdu city, Sichuan province, China.

About the Publisher
Lars Müller Publishers is an internationally active publishing house based in Zurich, Switzerland. It came into being in 1983, as a result of the bibliophile passion of designer Lars Müller. The house has made a worldwide name for itself – and not just in specialist fields – with carefully edited and designed publications on architecture, design, photography, contemporary art and society. The publishing program reflects Müller’s own diverse interests, documenting historical developments and contemporary phenomena by presenting compelling work in the visual arts and the design of objects and the environment and exploring its social and cultural relevance.

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