The Guide
18 July 2023

Photo Elysée, the rendez-vous for art lovers and photography enthusiasts in Lausanne

by Redaction NOW Village

This summer, don’t miss the 4 exhibitions by talented photographers, each with their own take on vibrant subjects.

Photo Elysée in Lausanne is one of the most important museums dedicated to photography in Switzerland. Since its opening in 1985, the museum has played a key role in promoting photography as a major art form. Since 2022, Photo Elysée has been based at Plateforme 10, a veritable arts district in the heart of the city, a stone’s throw from the railway station. It bring together the Musée cantonal des Beaux-Arts (MCBA), the mudac, as well as the Toms Pauli and Félix Vallotton foundations. It’s a must-see for art lovers and photography enthusiasts alike. In addition to its permanent collection, the museum regularly presents captivating temporary exhibitions featuring emerging artists and leading photographers.

A place for photography lovers

Photo Elysée houses an exceptional collection of over a million objects, including prints, negatives, contact sheets, books, magazines and other documents, from early daguerreotypes to contemporary digital works. It’s a place of inspiration and discovery for all photography enthusiasts, but not only. Its rich and varied collection offers a captivating glimpse into the history of photography, while temporary exhibitions enable visitors to discover emerging artists working on contemporary themes or those of international renown. Whether you’re an art lover or simply curious, a visit to Photo Elysée is an enriching experience that will transport you into the visual and artistic world of photography.

Photo Elysée Museum, Lausanne

Current exhibitions

This summer, Photo Elysée presents four new exhibitions that are not to be missed.

Laia Abril. From mass hysteria, a history of misogyny.

Spanish artist Laia Abril explores the concept of mass hysteria through a series of photographs, installations and historical documents. Laia Abril takes an in-depth look at various episodes of mass hysteria that have marked history, highlighting the psychological, social and cultural consequences of these phenomena. The exhibition examines topics such as witchcraft hysteria in the 17th century, St. Vitus dance hysteria in the Middle Ages and tic hysteria in the 21st century. Using a multidisciplinary approach, Laia Abril combines documentary photography, historical archives and interactive installations to immerse visitors in these troubling moments in history. Her work invites reflection on the collective mechanisms of fear, belief and hysteria, while highlighting the importance of memory and understanding in our contemporary society. “Laia Abril: De l’hystérie de masse” is a captivating exhibition that explores the limits of the human psyche and prompts us to reflect on the collective dynamics that can shape our reality. Through her striking photographs and conceptual approach, Laia Abril invites us to question our own perceptions and explore the complex mechanisms of hysteria in a contemporary context.

Laia Abril, Teen’s Pain | Identity Thief | Wrong Cake, three works from the Mass Hysteria series, 2023 © Laia Abril curtesy Galerie Les Filles du Calvaire
Open books

The ‘Open Books’ exhibition celebrates the power of photography books as artistic objects. It presents a selection of emblematic works, ranging from the first photographic books of the 19th century to contemporary creations. Visitors are invited to explore these precious books and discover the diversity of styles, themes and artistic approaches they offer. Open Books’ highlights the essential role of photographic books as artistic media, enabling photographers to tell stories and share their vision of the world in an intimate way. An immersive and inspiring experience that testifies to the power of photography books in our appreciation of visual art.”

Books from the Photo Elysée library, 2023 © Khashayar Javanmardi / Photo Elysée / Plateforme 10
Debi Cornwall

Photographer Debi Cornwall is the winner of the Prix Elysée 2023. Her photographs explore the boundary between reality and imagination, truth and fake news, questioning the function of photography as evidence. The Elysée Prize will enable the artist to pursue her research and publish a book. Her work has been hailed for its political and intellectual engagement, underlining the urgency of questioning photography as evidence. Before becoming a distinguished photographer, Debi Cornwall practiced for twelve years as a civil lawyer, and is now a conceptual documentary artist who uses absurdity and dark humor to explore invisible systems. Her project “Model Citizens” examines the staging of reality and the performance of citizenship in the United States.

Debi Cornwall, Avertissement, 2022, from the series Citoyens modèles © Debi Cornwall / Prix Elysée
Jagoda Wisniewska

Jagoda Wisniewska takes over Plateforme 10’s Signal L space, at the suggestion of Photo Elysée, the Arsenic and the Leenaards Foundation. Jagoda Wisniewska is interested in the perception of the female body and representations of female sexual and reproductive functions (intercourse, menstruation, childbirth, breastfeeding). The female body, exposed and sexualized, is also the body that is hidden, described by Sartre as “a series of wet holes and viscous substances”. At once desire and disgust, this “wetness” is both invigorating and threatening. Jagoda Wisniewska explores the relationship between photography and performance. She came across the work of choreographer and dancer Tamara Alegre, and invited her to use the presence of the camera (and the photographer) as an accomplice in experiments with the representation of the body and its fluids. Through her projects, she explores the enduring fascination with the maternal figure and its representations in photography.

Jagoda Wisniewska, Untitled, 2023 © Jagoda Wisniewska

Works on the header:
Jagoda Wisniewska, Untitled, 2023 © Jagoda Wisniewska
Laia Abril, Case study Cambodge, from the series De l’hystérie de masse, 2023 © Laia Abril courtesy Galerie Les Filles du Calvaire
Debi Cornwall, Victim. Camp Roberts Historical Museum. Camp Roberts, California, 2018, from the series Citoyens modèles © Debi Cornwall / Prix Elysée

Photo Elysée
Place de la Gare 17, 1003 Lausanne
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