Matthias Bruggmann Wins Second Edition of Prix Elysée

Words by Claudia Malfitano
July 3, 2017

Born from a partnership between the Musée de l’Elysée and Parmigiani Fleurier, the Prix Elysée offers financial help and curatorial guidance to artists with a passion for photography and books.

Photographer Matthias Bruggmann is the winner of the second edition of the prize that will allow him to complete his proposed project, thanks to a sum of CHF 80,000.
His project – “A Haunted World Where It Never Shows” – builds on his previous work. In his own words:

“Formally, my previous work put the viewer in a position where they were asked to decide the nature of the work itself. A scientifically questionable analogy of this mechanism would be the observer effect in quantum physics, where the act of observing changes the nature of what is being observed. My Syrian work builds on this framework.
From a documentation perspective, it is, thus far and to the best of my knowledge, unique as the work, inside Syria, of a single Western photographer, in large part thanks to the assistance and hard work of some of the best independent experts on the conflict. Because of the nature of this conflict, I believe it is necessary to expand the geographical scope of the work.
At its core is an attempt at generating a sense of moral ambiguity. The design of this is to make the viewer uneasy by challenging their own moral assumptions, and thus attempt to bring, to Western viewers, a visceral comprehension of the intangible violence that underlies conflict. One of the means is by perverting the codes normally used in documentary photography to enhance identification with the subject. While perfectly conforming to accepted documentary norms, part of the work aims at eroding the viewer’s implicit faith in my own trustworthiness as a witness, and attempts to force a further reflexion on the nature of what is presented.”

The jury of the prize is composed by: Mimi Chun, Founder and Director of the Blindspot Gallery (Hong Kong), Andrew Sanigar, Commissioning Editor of Thames & Hudson (London), Salvador Nadales, Curator of Collections Department and Head of Institutional Relations of the Museo Reina Sofia (Madrid), Astrid Ullens de Schooten, Founder and President of the A. Stichting Foundation (Brussels), and the founding partners, Tatyana Franck, Director of the Musée de l’Elysée (Lausanne), Michel Parmigiani, Founder of Parmigiani Fleurier (Fleurier) and Marina Vatchnadze, Manager of Cultural Patronage of the Sandoz Family Foundation (Pully).

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