Unfamiliar Familiarities

Outside Views on Switzerland

Tuesday to Sunday, 11pm - 6pm.
October 25, 2017 - January 7, 2018

Switzerland’s image has been significantly shaped by photographs dedicated to tourism. With spectacular mountain panoramas, 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.

Switzerland Tourism has chosen an unusual project to mark its 100th anniversary in 2017 with the aim of exploring the potential of photography anew. The Swiss Foundation for Photography (Winterthur) and the Musée de l’Elysée (Lausanne) invited five internationally renowned photographers to scrutinise Switzerland in their capacity as independent, subjective and sensitive observers – unrestricted by any advertising commission.

What Alinka Echeverría (Mexico/UK), Shane Lavalette (USA), Eva Leitolf (Germany), Simon Roberts (UK) and Zhang Xiao (China) discovered on their travels around the country or along its borders is both inspiring and revealing. Their exciting, poetic or mysterious-enigmatic images invite viewers to see the familiar with the eyes of an outsider.

An initiative of the Swiss Foundation for Photography, co-produced by the Musée de l’Elysée and with the support of Switzerland Tourism.

A boxed set of books co-published by the Swiss Foundation for Photography, the Musée de l’Elysée and Lars Müller Publishers will accompany the exhibition. 

Preview: Tuesday, October 24 at 6pm


Tatyana Franck, director of the Musée de l’Elysée
Peter Pfrunder, director of the Swiss Foundation for Photography
Lars Willumeit, independent curator

Alinka Echeverría, Maria, Julien, Eniola et Anais, Genève, 2016, du projet Etrangement
familier © Alinka Echeverría

Simon Roberts, 2016, du projet Etrangement familier © Simon Roberts

Eva Leitolf, Matters of Negotiation (détail d’un travail numérique imagetext), 2016, du projet Etrangement familier © Eva Leitolf, VG Bild-Kunst

Zhang Xiao, Rheinfelden, 2016, du projet Etrangement familier © Zhang Xiao

Shane Lavalette, du projet Etrangement familier © Shane Lavalette


Winter schedule

The museum is open Tuesday to Sunday from 11am to 6pm, except:

  • December 24, 11am - 4pm
  • December 31, 11am - 4pm

The museum is closed on December 25 and January 1.

Exhibition poster

The Future Museum at PLATEFORME 10

The Musée de l'Elysée is temporarily closed to prepare its move to PLATEFORME 10, the new arts district of Lausanne. The Musée de l'Elysée and mudac's new building handover ceremony will take place from November 4 to 7, 2021. The inauguration of the exhibition areas is scheduled for June 2022.

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