Embracing the present, Photo Elysée is giving pride of place to a new generation of socially and politically engaged female artists, the rising stars of the contemporary international arts scene. Each of them pores over the media and picks out images to examine the stereotypes of our patriarchal society.
Nowadays, photography circulates on various media, from paper to screens. We decided to put the printed page at the heart of our programme. Photo Elysée houses a collection of almost 25,000 photography books. Currently still closed to the public, some of the library's content will be revealed this summer through a brand new exhibition. The public is invited to browse these books through an interactive digital tool produced with the EPFL+ECAL Lab.
The reason we are showing our collection of books is that many artists are expressing a keen interest in the printed page. This interest can be seen in works produced using photos found in, and cut out of books, magazines, and other printed material. This is the case for Spanish artist Laia Abril, who has been invited by Photo Elysée to present her latest research on mass hysteria – a new chapter in her vast project History of Misogyny. It’s also true of American artist Carmen Winant, who has added to our library a selection of feminist books. Like Laia Abril, she produces her work by deconstructing and collecting found images, which she then arranges intuitively. In the series exhibited here, she superimposes birth images onto pages of the New York Times. In Winant’s work, pictures and words collide, devoid of order, narration or linear sequence.
In this feminist, activist line-up, Photo Elysée unveils the work of American photographer Debi Cornwall, winner of the 2023 Prix Elysée, one of the world’s most prestigious photography awards that was launched in 2014 with our partner Parmigiani Fleurier. In this series, which is still in progress, the artist decodes society’s images in the age of fake news, and examines the role of photography in the blurry line between truth and fiction. In Debi Cornwall’s work, photography becomes a tool for political analysis.
Lastly, Photo Elysée has invited Lausanne photographer Jagoda Wisniewska to team up with Chilean performer Tamara Alegre, invited by the performing arts centre Arsenic. This exhibition can be seen in the Signal L, a space funded by the Leenaards Foundation where the Plateforme 10 museums take turns to invite artists from the region in partnership with local cultural institutions. Although Jagoda Wisniewska’s work focuses on the sensuality of the body, it is nonetheless also a politicised body.
Nathalie Herschdorfer, director of Photo Elysée